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Efficacy of Prayer

Efficacy of Prayer (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) The truth is, no man can really get rid of sins, nor can he truly love God nor can he fear Him as he ought to until by the grace of God, he attains to divine knowledge, power and strength. It is obvious that fear and love are the result of knowledge. The love of things after which man’s heart yearns and the fear of things from which he runs away, spring in his heart after he knows about them. Yes, it is true, divine knowledge cannot be attained save by the grace of God. And by the divine wisdom which comes through the grace of God, a door is opened for the discernment and search for truth. And as a result of the repeated and continual effulgence of the divine grace, that door remains open always and is never locked. In short, divine wisdom is attained through the grace of God, but does it last? Divine grace makes spiritual understanding crystal clear and illuminating and lifts the veils which stand between man and God. It cleans the self of all dross and impurities and breathes a new life and strength into the soul. It unfetters man from the shackles of evil and purifies him of low desires. It delivers man from the turbulent deluge of passions. Then a change comes over him and he naturally begins to abhor evil life. The first thing towards which his spirit moves him after such a holy transformation is wrought in him, is prayers. Think not that your prayer every day and your daily devotions are but prayers. The prayer which is instilled into you after the attainment of divine knowledge, is entirely different from ordinary prayers. It possesses the quality of annihilation. It is fire which possesses the quality of melting. It is a magnetic attraction which draws the mercy of God. It is a death but gives new life in the end. It is a rising flood which, at last, is turned into an ark. Everything that is spoiled or is in disorder is set right by it. Even poison is ,J turned into antidote by it. Blessed are the captives who never grow weary in praying, for one day, they will be emancipated. Blessed are the blind who never cease to pray, for they ~ will begin to see. Blessed are those who are lying in their graves and seek help 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS and strength from God, for, one day, they will be brought out from their graves. Blessed are you, when you tire not of praying, your spirit melts in devotion, your eyes shed tears your breast burns with a flame which takes you to the dark chambers and the wilderness so that ye taste the joys of solitude; and ye become restless and over-powered by a fervour to be alone with God. When such is the case the divine grace shall be showered upon you. God towards Whom we call you is infinite in His bounty, compassion and kindness, is faithful and truthful and shows mercy unto the weak and the helpless. Be ye, therefore, trustful in God and pray unto Him in all sincerity and faith that he may show mercy unto you (Islam. A lecture given at Sialkot). It is commonly thought, and often urged as an argument against the efficacy of prayer, that a prayer to God and the seeking of means are two opposite courses, and that since the latter course is sufficient for the attainment of an end, a man need not resort to the former. This objection against prayer is not only directed from the camp of the atheists, but strange as it may appear, even within the circle of Islam there are men, by no means few in number, who entertain this mistaken view. When we cast a glance at the Divine laws manifest in external nature, it becomes quite clear that there is a necessary and indissoluble connection between means and ends. Anyone who sets before himself the attainment of an object at first looks for the means and endeavours to his utmost to find out the agencies by which he can possibly attain that end. In this search for means he has to apply all his faculties to the object before him and give his whole attention to the finding of these means. When we are sick, for instance, we seek the proper remedy, or if we have not the skill which can enable us to find the true remedy, we call a physician who reflects on the causes and the nature of our disease, and whose genius is sometimes guided by a remedy, which removes our illness to some extent. The method thus suggested is the result of a deep reflection and of the consideration given to the question, which, in other words, may be called a prayer. For when we strive hard in search of what is hidden from us and unknown to us, we really seek for guidance from a higher power, from whom nothing is hidden, in a language which is expressed by our very condition. In fact, it cannot be doubted that when in search of a thing the soul stretches out its hands in true zeal and ardour before the Giver of all gifts, and finding itself weak and unable to attain the end by itself, seeks for light from some other source, it is plunged in a prayerful meditation, and its condition then is truly of one who prays to God. It is this prayer which is the key to all treasures of knowledge and which has brought about the discovery of so many sciences. Our meditations and reflections and our search for that which is hidden from us are all a sort of prayer. The difference is only this that the truly wise, the holy men of God, pray with due respect to Him whom they recognise to be the Source of all blessings and their supplications are based upon a clear ~. i , , I j EFFICACY OF PRAYER 25 knowledge, the prayer of those upon whose eyes a veil is cast is like wandering in darkness and it takes the form of meditation and reflection. Both have the object in view, viz., the opening of hidden ways and deep paths and the discovery of means which would make them successful in the attainment of an end. The person who has not a true knowledge of God and a certain faith in His existence is ignorant of the Giver from Whom he must seek, but still, when in distress, he seeks for assistance from some other source which he does not know. He walks in darkness and does not know that the way opened to him upon reflection and consideration is also opened by God. But Almighty God sees the heart looking upon its meditations as prayer, guides the man, who is thus engaged, in the attainment of his object. In short, it is God who breathes into the heart of men new points of wisdom and knowledge, for Almighty God knows that it is He from Whom the assistance is sought though the seeker may be unaware of it. If, as stated above, the search is made and assistance sought with a certain knowledge of the true Guide and a certain belief in His existence it is devout prayer as required by the holy word of God. But if the search for true light degenerates into a search of means by deep consideration and reflection, and the source from which that light comes is not recognised, it is a prayer over which the veil of ignorance is drawn. It is, therefore, clear that prayer has the precedence over means and that it is an essential step for every person who sets any object before himself. Every one who seeks to gain an end must pass over this bridge. To set prayer in opposition to means is the height of absurdity. When we pray to God we only supplicate the Almighty Being, Who has superior knowledge of the most subtle and hidden means, to infuse into our minds some suitable and proper plan, or by His creative power to bring into existence some plan which can bring about the object that is before us. Means, therefore, are not opposed to prayer but a result of them. Moreover, as this close connection between means and prayer is established by the laws of nature, human nature also bears witness to it. It is not only to means and remedies, but it also seeks a relief in alms and prayer. A glance at the different nations of the world establishes the universality of this rule. Resorting to prayer is, therefore, as well a requirement of human nature as the seeking of means, but both these methods for the attainment of an end are, like twin brothers, the benefactors of the human race. Prayer opens the ways to means, and the search of means calls for prayer. The true success and prosperity of a man lies in this that before resorting to means, he should resort to prayer and seeking assistance from the true Giver of all gifts, so that being fed from that source of light he may find the best and most suitable plans.