No Time To Pray
Time and again, mother had been telling her son that he must get into the habit of saying a prayer in the morning. All the elders in the house were in the habit of spending a few minutes in the shrine room after bathing in the morning. Mother was trying hard to get Ananya to find time for prayer, in his daily morning routine. Often she would ask him at the breakfast table, “Ananya, have you done your prayers?”
Seldom would he say, “Yes, Mama.” The most common answers were in the league of, “I didn’t have time”; “Oh! I forgot”; “I was getting late for my class”; “I woke up late today, Ma, thank God I have time for a glass of milk, ’bye.”
Years passed. Ananya was in college now. One day she asked him the same old question, “Ananya, have you done your prayers, today?” Pat came the reply, “Oh! Come on Mom, where’s the time? I barely have time to get dressed for college. I’ve got to go now. See you later!”
Today, Mom was annoyed.
“Ananya, have you bathed?” she asked sternly.
“Of course, Mom,” he said, a little surprised.
“Have you brushed your teeth?”
“Mom! Why are you asking me this?”
“Answer me, Ananya, have you or have you not?”
“I have, obviously.”
“Have you shaved your beard?”
“Yeah, can’t you see it?”
“Styled your hair?” “Hmm.”
“Done your push ups?”
“Mom! You’re bugging me now!”
“You’ve had time to bathe, brush, shave, exercise, dress up, tie those insanely long laces in your shoes, style your hair and put on your deodorant too. You also have time to eat breakfast.”
“Please Mom! I’ve got to go. I’ll be late,” “I think you’ll do well to go late today. Go and say your prayers. Only after that, you’ll get your breakfast. Now get up and get going.”
“Mom, have a heart, please for God’s sake.”
“Exactly, Ananya! For God’s sake, you have to learn to pray! You are able to find time for everything that you wish to do. But you can’t spare a few moments to pray. Ananya realized she was not going to let up. So he made a quick visit to the temple room and was back to eat, in a jiffy.
“Mom! Now, can I get some breakfast?” Mom gave him a sandwich and a glass of milk, and let him go. That evening, when Ananya was about to go to bed, Mother came to his room and said, “Ananya, can we talk for a while, son?”
“Sure Mom. What is it?”
“Son, you work all day for worldly things, how many minutes do you devote for the master of the world? Prayer is like a lifeline. It is a connection between God and you. If you really cannot find time to pray, I have a suggestion. You spend about three minutes every morning brushing your teeth, right? You can pray, while you brush. Is that possible?”
Ananya thought for a moment. “Can I do it while I bathe?” “Of course you can, if that suits you. Ananya, prayer is just talking to God. You can do it anywhere and at anytime. But if you do not consciously set aside time for it, you never ever get down to doing it. You know, many years ago, Bhagwan Baba physically visited the house of a devotee. She showed Him around the house, naming each room as her son’s room; her daughter’s room; the drawing room etc. The master bed room was addressed as her ‘husband’s room’. When she showed Him the shrine room she said, “Swami, this is your room!” Bhagwan asked her, “Where is your room?”
She said, “Swami, my room is at your lotus feet.” Swami smiled and said, “And my room is in your heart!”
With that, mother said good night to her son and left him alone with his thoughts. The conversation left a deep impact on Ananya’s mind. For years, Ananya said his morning prayers while bathing, for he had the faith that he would find God residing in the temple of his heart, as Swami had said. And he did!
Now, he prays in the shrine room every morning because he finds that while praying, he doesn’t have time to bathe!
Sitting at a fixed time and at a fixed place to pray are surely helpful to train one’s mind or to develop a habit. But eventually these things are not really important. In the words of our beloved Bhagawan Baba, “As a first step, you use the flower, the lamp, the incense, etc. to worship the Saguna (attribute able) form. Soon, your devotion moves on to newer forms of dedication, newer offerings, purer, more valuable and worthier of your Lord. No one sticks to the slate for long; you feel that you should place before the Lord something more lasting than mere flowers; and something more yours than incense. You feel like purifying yourselves and making your entire life one fragrant flame. That is real worship, real devotion.”