A message on prayer by Sadhu Sundar Singh

Sadhu Sundar Singh explains in this message the meaning of prayer to God

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"Those who think that prayer is asking are only beggars. I have not seen any beggar understand the truth of Christianity."

 

"Every day whenever we spend time in prayer and realize His presence, we must hold these things fast in our heart. Without prayer it is impossible. Prayer is not asking for this thing or that thing, but for the Giver of blessing Himself -- that He may live in us. See how wonderful our Saviour is!"

 

"Some people are very thankful when their prayer is answered. But the people who think that prayer is merely asking are greatly mistaken. God gives Himself. Even wicked are receiving all kinds of things from God. If the Holy Spirit were given without prayer, we should not be able to appreciate Him. But the people who receive Him can't live without prayer. They may fall, they may make mistakes, but they know the value of prayer; and those who know the value of a life of fellowship will never cease."

 

"Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness know Him. He reveals Himself to such people -- those who spend time in prayer. We see our face sometimes not in a mirror but in a river, but when there are waves in the river we are not able to see ourselves. When our lives are full of hurry and bustle we fail to see ourselves, but in a quiet place we see ourselves and we shall be entirely changed -- a new life. Then we shall not be ashamed. We shall know Him by living with Him -- and we must live in Him through a life of prayer."

 

"Prayer is to live in Him for others. We can't stop breathing in the air of the Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Spirit we are being prepared for the world to come -- for the Kingdom of God where we are going to spend eternity. We have not been created to live in this world forever but to get ready for our Heavenly Home."

 

"A child two or three days old does not know anything about this world -- about his mother and about milk, but he knows how to suck milk. He does not know Khasi or Hindi, but he knows how to suck. God has provided milk for the child in his mother's breast, but it does not flow into the child's mouth. He has to suck and he gets stronger and stronger every day. God is our spiritual Mother and we experience that when we lead a life of prayer. We have desire. This desire is to be satisfied, and only He can meet the needs of the human heart. Everybody knows something about prayer. A child can cry."

 

"St. Paul was such a practical man of God that he didn't tell others to do what he didn't try to do himself. He lived a life of prayer, he never ceased to pray. When on a long journey, he prayed. He knew the value of prayer from experience. He knew how important and essential it is. Just as breathing and circulation of the blood are functions of the body, so prayer is a function of the soul. The circulation of the blood will not continue forever, the beating of the heart will stop, but prayer will continue. Prayer is to breathe in God -- to breathe in the air of the Holy Spirit. Those who cannot breathe are dead. We breathe in our sleep, so , 'Pray without ceasing.' To live in Him we are to breathe in Him Who is our life."

"A naturalist noticing that certain beautiful birds flew away to a hot country at the beginning of winter, had a great desire that the birds should stay, but was unable to retain them. So he thought of another plan. He got some of these birds' eggs from a hot country. He thought that if these young ones were born in a cold country they would think they belonged to the cold country. But when the winter came they flew away. No one told them, but they went back again to the country whence they had come. They had that instinct, that sense which told them. So we too are going to fly away from here."

 

"If eggs are not properly hatched they become rotten. So we too are in danger of perishing from sin. But we are being prepared and we shall fly from our shell into our heavenly home. Even animals know their master but we don't know our Creator. We cannot change His will but through prayer we can understand His will. What is necessary for His will, will be given to us to carry out His plans. We are being changed. When the egg is being hatched it is changed; then, in time, the chick will become like the mother-bird. The liquid matter is changed until it becomes a young bird which becomes like its mother. In prayer we are being hatched and changed and prepared to be like Him. All eggs do not get hatched. They need the Mother's warmth. So too we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to make us warm. We must receive the warmth and heat from Him in prayer."

 

"Why doesn't God give spiritual blessings without prayer? There was Saul. Saul received a kingdom and the Holy Spirit, but he did not pray for the Holy Spirit and was not anxious. The result was that he lost both. Through prayer we are being prepared. We are receiving a blessing through the prayer of preparation. Instead of donkeys Saul found a kingdom. If we receive the Holy Spirit before we are ready we shall lose Him. But if we are ready then our lives will be entirely changed. But if we lose Him we are worse than before. Such men are the incarnation of the devil -- their condition afterwards is worse."

 

"This is a warning from the Lord Himself. 'Hold fast thy crown.' All will be clear if we live a life of prayer. We must spend time in prayer -- then we shall know who our Saviour is. We receive blessings even through our mistakes. But our God works quietly. He never makes a noise...God give me strength and power that I may not lose this blessing. My prayer is to continue. Then Heaven will begin on earth for all who have had this experience. Then we shall see others entering into the kingdom of God. We shall see with our spiritual eyes and fly away and be with our Saviour and be in His Kingdom forever.


May God help us so that we may live in Him in this life -- and that is only possible through prayer which is the vital breath of life -- before we enter into the Heavenly Kingdom where we are going to live with Him forever.

We must begin in our home on earth, otherwise we shall feel out of place in Heaven. If we live in Him now, we shall be prepared to live with Him forever..."

 

"May God help us to pray without ceasing."

 

Please read the following wonderful message on prayer given by Sadhu Sundar Singh. It is an excerpt from an interview with him.



Seeker: Is it true, beloved Sadhu, that one can experience miraculous protection through prayer?

Sadhu: I have experienced many dangers in my travels, often because intolerant people wished to see me come to harm. Once near Kailas, I asked directions to the nearest village. Out of spite, the villagers deliberately sent me down a dangerous jungle path. As night came on, I came to a river that blocked my path and there was still no village to be seen. Already in the dusk, I could hear the sounds of wild animals nearby. With no way to cross the river, I sat down and prayed, thinking that the end of my life was at hand. When I looked up, I saw a man on the other side of the river beside a fire. He called to me: "Do not be afraid! I am coming to help you." I was astonished to see him wade purposefully across the swift river. Coming up to me, he said, "Sit on my shoulders and have no fear." As easily as before, he walked straight across the current with me on his back. He set me down on the far bank, and as I walked beside him, both he and the fire disappeared.

Another evening, I was driven out of a village by an angry crowd, wielding clubs. They drove me into the forest until I came to a rock face and could go no further. There I huddled among the stones waiting for them to attack me and batter me to death. But nothing happened. After it was quiet for a time, I looked around and there was no sign of my tormentors. I built a fire, tended my wounds and slept at that same place. In the morning, I awoke to the sight of several men staring at me fearfully from a distance. Cautiously, they approached and offered me food and drink, asking, "Sadhu-ji, who were those men in shining robes who stood around you last night?"

Once, at a town called Rasar in Tibet, I was taken before the head Lama and accused of heresy because I shared freely about the Master's work in freeing us from our sin. An angry mob dragged me to the edge of town, stripped me of all my clothes and cast me into a dry well that was then locked shut with a lid. My arm was injured in the fall, but worse than the pain was the smell. Many others had suffered the same fate and wherever I reached in the darkness I could feel bones and rotting flesh. The smell was vile. It was like hell. There I was tempted to doubt: "Where is the Master now? Why has he allowed this to happen?" But I also remember a sense of peace, a certainty that the Master was there with me.

I do not know how long I had been in the well, perhaps two or three days, when I heard a grating sound overhead. Someone was opening the lock and dragging away the lid. A rope came down and a voice commanded me to take hold of the rope. I grasped it with all my remaining strength and was dragged up into the night air. As I lay on the ground, breathing in the fresh air, I could hear the well being closed and locked again. When I looked around, I couldn't see anyone. I do not know who rescued me, but in my heart, I know that it was the Master.

The next day, I went again into the village and started to teach those who would listen. Some people dragged me again before the Lama, and I told him the whole story of my rescue. He was very angry and ordered that a search be made for the man who had taken the key to the lid. But when he discovered that the key still hung on his own belt, he was speechless. He ordered me to leave the village at once, lest my Master should punish him and the village.


Seeker: I find it difficult to believe that such amazing things are possible. Can we really move God through prayer to alter the natural course of events?

Sadhu:
The scientific mind does not grasp how the author of life holds in his hands the created laws of nature. It is God who establishes the laws of nature. Thus, it is foolish to suggest that miracles violate the laws of nature. There are actually higher laws about which we know little or nothing. In prayer, we can come to gradually recognize these higher laws. Then, we understand that miracles are not only possible but even natural.

In very cold places, it is quite common for the surface of a river to freeze over while the water still flows beneath. I have crossed many such rivers safely and easily. But if I travel in tropical regions and tell people that there are bridges of solid water across flowing rivers and that I myself have walked across such bridges, then they shake their heads in complete bewilderment and argue that such a thing is impossible. Likewise, those who live only by the senses and by reason are utterly ignorant of the spiritual life and what things are possible through prayer. God is spirit and God's ways are spiritual. Spiritual things cannot be grasped by human reason; they can only be seen with spiritual eyes.

The greatest miracle is to be born in the spirit, to experience true peace. Once we personally experience the Master and how he has shattered the relentless cycle of sin and death and released us from our own sinful nature, we know that all things are possible with God. Once we have experienced this greatest of miracles, all other miracles seem small by comparison. That a poor, restless, impure, fallen soul can receive God's forgiveness and taste the Master's peace – this is the miracle of miracles. Whoever believes in this miracle believes in all miracles.

In great fear or anger or madness, a person can do extraordinary feats that seem far beyond human strength – like breaking iron chains. Clearly, this strength is latent within the human body and only comes to expression when the entire energy and concentration of mind and body is directed toward a single purpose. In meditation, our spiritual strength is similarly focused. Divine power flows through us, overcoming the chains of sin and spurring us to marvellous spiritual feats. But beware! Consider the power of guns and bombs that wreak destruction and devastation. Spiritual power can also be used for evil ends.


Seeker: God will truly grant whatever we pray for?

Sadhu:
Some people think that we alter God's will and plans through prayer, but it is actually our hearts that are changed. The unfulfilled potential of our soul is ever striving to reach beyond the limitations of this imperfect life. When a bird first lays her eggs and begins to brood and warm them, there is only formless liquid inside. But as the mother continues to cover them with her own body, the liquid inside is transformed. It becomes solid and takes on the form of the mother. Similarly, our prayer does not change God. Rather, it is we who are transformed into the glory and image of God.

We do not pray to inform God of our needs. We pray in order to open our hearts to the giver of all blessings. When the Master departed from his disciples He did not pour the Spirit out onto them the same day. They needed a period of special inner preparation before they were ready for this gift. If we receive God's blessing without expecting it and without being inwardly prepared for it, we will appreciate neither the gift nor will we hold onto it for long. It was the same with Saul, the first king of Israel. He was not seeking to serve God, he was only concerned about lost donkeys. So when he received the spirit of God and was anointed as king, he was not inwardly prepared. Because of this, he soon lost both.


Seeker: What, then, is true prayer?

Sadhu:
When we see a crane or heron standing motionless on the shore of a lake or pond, we might think it is meditating on the beauty of the water. But this is not so! The bird stands there for hours without moving, but as soon as it sees a frog or small fish, it darts forward and greedily snatches it. Many people have the same approach to prayer and meditation. Seated on the shore of the boundless ocean of God's love, they actually give no thought to his majesty or to the divine grace that cleanses us from sin and satisfies the hungry soul. Instead, they are consumed by the thought of receiving something for themselves, some morsel to gratify their self-indulgence. Having visited the very source of true peace and bliss, they fail to appreciate it and instead give themselves to fleeting pleasures. The essence of prayer does not consist in asking for things, but in opening one 's heart to God. Prayer is continual abandonment to God. It is the desire for God himself, the giver of life. Prayer is communion with God, receiving him who is the giver of all good gifts, living a life of fellowship with him. It is breathing and living in God.

A little child will run to his mother exclaiming: "Mother! Mother!" The child does not necessarily want anything in particular. He only wants to be near his mother, to sit on her lap, or to follow her about the house. The child longs for the sheer pleasure of being near her, talking to her, hearing her voice. This is what makes him happy. It is just the same with those who are truly God's children. They do not trouble themselves with asking for spiritual blessings. They only want to sit at the Master's feet, to be in living touch with him; then they are supremely content. Climate affects the form, color, and growth patterns of plants and flowers. In the jungle we often see insects that have taken on the form and color of the grass and green leaves on which they feed. In the snow of the North, the polar bear's fur has the same snowy whiteness. The Bengal tiger wears stripes on its skin like the reeds where it lives. Our spiritual environment similarly affects us. If we remain in communion with God, our habits and disposition – even our appearance – are all changed. To pray means to be on speaking terms with God, to be in communion with him and to be transformed into his likeness. We begin to take on a glorious and incorruptible spiritual nature.