More things are wrought by prayers than this world dreams of!
Often we pray but do not feel inclined towards the activity. Sometimes we force ourselves to perform the act for a long while and then feel that nothing good seems to be coming out of it. In this case, it is essential to understand the prerequisites for performing prayers.
First and foremost, it is vital to pick the right spot where we can find solitude. A doctor often asks the patientís attendant/s to wait aside (unless in special circumstances), in order to talk freely with the patient. The latter also feels more comfortable discussing his/her problems when alone. Similarly, a psychotherapist prefers to talk to his patient in solitude where the latter is free of the influence of anyone else.
There is no interaction more personal than oneís time with God. These days we live a life of pretence and formalities. For some people, the only genuine ime where they can be their real selves is the time they spend with God. So, it becomes very important to find and decide a place of solitude where thereís no one but us and God. Luckily for us, God is everywhere. So we only need to look for a place for ourselves.
The second thing to remember is that in the beginning, one can even chant the prayers out loud. I have often seen people preparing for their tests with full concentration and in doing so, they start repeating some words or text out loud when they are at the peak of their concentration, oblivious of whatís around them. When preparing for an exam, some people learn better saying the text out loud for better comprehension and retention. It is important to be free of distractions and using the sense of speech as well as the sense of hearing in our task helps increase our efficiency.
Being peaceful is another pre-requisite. If you have just ended a dispute or were in the middle of an argument, you will not be able to meditate well. Similarly, if you are by nature an extrovert, you should first calm yourself down and then get to the task of praying.
Purification of the body has also been described as a pre-requisite. It is beneficial to take a shower before sitting for prayers. In fact, beginners should definitely do so to get invigorated to undertake the most meaningful task of their life. The cooling effect of water helps get rid of weariness calms us down and makes it easier to concentrate.
More than the body it is important to purify the mind before starting communication with God. When the mind is thinking of worldly matters and plotting the next move for work or for home, it becomes hard to focus on prayers. We should remember that our mind is inanimate and thinks what we encourage it to think. We should try to understand the importance of praying and steer our mind towards God wilfully. Unless we do so, our prayers will be unsuccessful and we shall gain nothing by sitting with our eyes closed and hands folded for an hour. Purifying the mind increases our devotion and faith and we receive great results in return for our prayers.
There is no scope for laziness, procrastination or languidness during prayers. The mind as well as the body should be active. Prayers are not to be a formality, a hollow ritual. There should be no grumbling about it. It is the most important activity of the day and has to be taken seriously. It prepares us for the rest of the day and essentially for the life to come.
Last but not the least, one should be truthful to oneís word. If we pray for something we need to put in appropriate effort corresponding to what we request. God helps those who help themselves. This well-known saying means that whatever we pray for cannot be granted unless we show our willingness and receptivity by putting forth our best efforts.
In the end remember that prayers performed well will always reap good results. If someone has been praying to God for several years and is still not satisfied in terms of spiritual gains, there is certainly something wrong in the manner of praying. It then becomes important to introspect and measure oneís own shortcomings. More than mere words, our prayers need our heart in order for us to harvest the brilliant crop grown from the miraculous seed of prayer and nurtured with faith, love and sincere work.