by Sweety Vyas

We pray for many reasons. Some pray for wealth and for achieving success in their job. Some pray for fame and power. Others pray for getting a good education. Some people pray for good health and others to be cured of a specific disease. Yet others pray for good family life or success in relationships. Some pray for earthly possessions. Some pray for the safety and well-being of their family members. Some pray to be married or have a child. There are prayers for different needs at different times. Sometimes we wonder, what should we pray for? 

There is a famous story that can provide us with some insight.

A group of alumni decided to meet their favorite university professor. They planned a surprise visit to his residence. On a predefined date, they all came to visit the professor. The professor was very happy to meet them. Everyone was very excited. Some of them were meeting each other after a long time. They shared their experiences and accomplishments. Some of the alumni had achieved phenomenal success in the business world. Most were happily married. Each one achieved success at a different time. Somehow soon the happy conversation drifted to stress, tension, and complaints about work and relationships. An air of discontent prevailed.

The professor got up and went to make some coffee. He returned with a pot of coffee and an assortment of cups. There were different types of cups – plastic, glass, porcelain, some with fancy designs, some expensive, and some plain ones.

After all the students took coffee, the professor said,” If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is, of course, normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that can also be the source of much of your dissatisfaction, problems, and stress.”

He explained that the type of the cup itself did not add to the quality of the coffee. What was important was the taste of the coffee, but all of you went for the outer trappings of the coffee cup and instead began comparing the cups with each other. Similarly, possessions, jobs, fame, etc. are what is on the outside. What is truly meaningful is what is inside.

Though I’m not an advocate of drinking too much coffee, the story illustrates an important point. It teaches us that we need to focus on what is true of value rather than the unimportant. 

We spend a great deal of time praying for temporary things in this world. We pray for many things, but once we get them, we are still not satisfied. We want more and more. Our endless material desires keep us trapped and unhappy. We should learn to pay attention to that which is eternal. It alone is most beneficial to us. Pure devotees pray to the divine for the divine alone. They are not bothered about fame or wealth. Nor do they pray for power or position. All they only want is God.

We should pray to the divine to fix our minds exclusively on the divine. We should pray for the opportunity to serve God selflessly. This prayer is the greatest and is complete.

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