The power of prayer has to be tested before one can believe in it. Most of the time we hardly believe that our prayers will be heard, let alone answered. When we feel no divine response, we comfort ourselves that prayers are not always answered anyway.

What we overlook, as too good to be true, is that God is not far away in the heavens. He is right here among us, within our thoughts and emotions. As Paramhansaji says, He is “nearer than your nearest thoughts”.

So how does this translate into real-life experience?

Let me share something from my life. Once, I had to be away from home for two and a half years on account of compulsions of work. While away, I had to leave my pets behind. Since I loved my pets deeply, and I assume they loved me, too, there was this deep sense of separation which I felt. Maybe my little dog felt that too. But, of course she couldn’t speak or convey what she felt. All the while that I was away, I kept thinking that two and a half years of a dog’s lifespan are something like twenty years of our life, which is a very long time. So, all I asked was that she should live till I got back to be with her, and not die while I was away. My heart kept up this silent prayer: “God, please let her live till I get back. I want to be able to live with her, and I have to be holding her when she dies.”

Now, life and death are something we have no control over. Neither could I do anything to get back earlier than my work would allow. As it happened, I got back to live at home permanently. God gave my little dog and me about a year together, and I was holding her when she died.

There is in my mind not a shadow of doubt that God heard and answered my prayer. Was that her prayer also? We can never know, but it is too much of a coincidence. I don’t think it could have happened without some loving and benign intervention, by an invisible power.

Quite literally, it seems that He knows our every thought. What strikes me as very logical is that God cares about our thoughts and desires, as well as the thoughts and desires of all conscious beings.

There have been so many instances when people have sent out a single powerful thought-prayer and it has manifested. With the focused power of your mind, you can influence the course of events.

What is needed is faith that God hears and will answer, that we are living in the “listening presence” of God.  As Guruji says, one must pray, believing that the prayer is being heard and may be answered.   There is one condition, though. The prayer or desire must not be directed at harming someone else. However difficult a person may be, the prerogative of giving him his due is that of God alone, through his karma. It is not for us to act the part of the Divine Judge.

A prayer is not necessarily a formal affair where one needs to go to a church or a temple or a mosque, and make an offering of something, or assume a formal pose for praying. A prayer is when you talk to God, telling Him your concerns, sharing with Him your disappointments, even your failures.  Even a passing thought could be a prayer.  If a prayer is not granted, still have faith in the love that God has for you. Look beyond, to what is going to follow. We hardly have enough wisdom to know what is really in our interest, and if every prayer were to be answered, we might find ourselves ‘blessed’ with things which are at cross-purposes with each other, though we wanted them both.

The lives of saints manifest the power of prayer, and so can we, if we can have purity of intent and faith. But as I said, the power of prayer has to be tested to be known.