Most of us turn to prayer regularly to a lesser or greater extent. More things, Tennyson said, are wrought by prayer than this world dreams off.
My spiritual mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, the President of the Soka Gakkai International, offers this guidance on prayer which I have quoted extensively in my book, Celebrating Active Ageing.
In volume 1 of a series titled, “The wisdom for creating Happiness and Peace,” a compilation of writings and speeches by Daisaku Ikeda he said, “Our strong focused prayers manifests as the power of faith and practice. The main player in this drama is always the human being-it is we ourselves.” Prayer is free of all arrogance and conceit, with a humble spirit to go beyond our shallow wisdom and limited experience to become one with the fundamental rhythm of nature and the universe.
Ikeda said, “There may be times when we give in to self-defeat and our determination wanes, or when things don’t go as we hoped and we feel anxious. Whether our prayers are answered right away or not, we must continue praying without harbouring any doubt. Those who maintain such faith will build immensely fulfilling lives and come to regard everything as a source of joy and a part of their mission.”
While prayer comes naturally to many there are others who neglect prayer. Ikeda said that for those who neglect prayer things may go smoothly at first, but when faced with adversity they crumble. “Lacking self-mastery they are tossed about like leaves in the turbulent waters of society.” In the rough and tumble of life, each twist and turn helps us grow and develop more. Prayers helps us navigate this course, preventing us from becoming arrogant in victory or devastated in defeat.
Faith and prayer help us build a strong inner core. Buddhism speaks of two kinds of benefits from prayer–conspicuous and inconspicuous. Conspicuous benefits are when we experience a visible benefit of being protected or being able to overcome a problem of any kind such as an illness or financial difficulties. Inconspicuous benefits are less tangible and we may not see any changes day to day. It is good fortune that accumulates steadily. Over the years we will gain an indomitable spirit. Ikeda said, “A life that has been polished by prayer shines with wisdom and this wisdom serves as a beacon guiding the way to victory in life.”