"We often hear people say that behind every successful man is a woman. I will modify this by saying, behind every success, there is the Divine, saying, "I am behind you". The Divine dawns in you when you pray for Grace; when you cry for it.
Prayer is a vital tool to improve your life. What you can do, do it. What you cannot do, pray for it! When you feel the obstacle is too much to handle, deep prayer can work miracles. Whatever you do, know that a higher power has the final say and you can tap that power through your prayers.
You don't need any special qualifications or abilities to pray. Whether a fool or a wise person, rich or poor, anybody can pray. Prayer doesn't mean just sitting and chanting some words. It's about being in that serene, calm, meditative state. That is why, in vedic tradition, dhyana, meditation, is done before prayer as well as afterwards. When the mind is focused, prayer becomes far more powerful.
Prayer is the cry of a soul. To whom you pray is not so important. Whereas religion puts words to the prayer, and adds symbols and rituals to it, prayer itself transcends them. It happens at the subtle level of feelings; feelings transcend words and religion. The act of praying itself has the power to bring transformation.
When you pray there should be total involvement. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere then that is no prayer at all. When there is pain, there is more involvement. That's why people turn to prayer when they are in pain. Prayer happens when you feel grateful or when you feel utterly helpless. In either case your prayers will be answered. When you feel helpless, prayer happens by itself. That's why in Hindi we say 'Nirbal toh Balram'. If you are weak, God is with you. Prayer is that moment when you get in touch with your limitations, your boundaries.
Usually when you love something, you want to possess it and you pray for it. True prayer, however, is just the opposite of wanting to possess. It's about honouring and offering everything to the Divine. Honouring brings devotion and leads to surrender. Devotion heals.
True prayer can't happen without devotion and faith. Having faith is to realise that God's protection is there for you. Devotion is inner flowering; it starts from where you are. Unless you are lit in devotion to the Divine, your life will remain restless. In devotion, longing will arise in you and true prayer happens by itself.
Be sincere in your prayers. Do not try to outsmart the Divine. What type of time do you give the Divine? Usually you give time that is leftover; when you have nothing else to do, no guests to attend to, no parties to go to, then you go to the Divine. This is not quality time. Give prime time to the Divine. You will definitely be rewarded. If your prayers are not answered, it is because you have never given quality time.
There are four types of people who go to God -- first, those who seek the truth (knowledge and freedom); second, the wise ones (gyanis); third, the ones who seek material comforts (wealth) and fourth, ones who are in misery. The wise one does not pray for something. His life itself is a prayer.
If at all you have to pray for something, pray for happiness of all the people in the world."Loka Samastha Sukhinou Bhavantu"-- May everybody be happy."