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    a heron standing in water

    What the Climate Teaches Us about Prayer

    Communion with God requires living and breathing in him, not hunting for his blessing.


    March 16, 2023

    This article is excerpted from Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh.

    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.

    a heron standing in water

    Photograph by David McGowen

    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.

    Prayer is communion with God, receiving him who is the giver of all good gifts, living a life of fellowship with him.

    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.

    Seeker: Is the goal of prayer to lose our individuality and dissolve into oneness with God?

    Sadhu: We have been created in the image of God. Our destiny is to be restored into that image. God came to us in the Master to restore us to God’s divine nature. In this way, the Master transforms us into flames of spiritual fire. To become spiritual fire means to become like God. Even the smallest flame of fire is fire and has all the qualities of fire. This does not mean that our spirit is God’s spirit, as some pantheists and philosophers suppose. We are not fragments of God’s spirit. We are not God. God is distinct from us, but our souls can only find peace in oneness with God.

    A sponge lies in the water, and the water fills the sponge, but the water is not the sponge, and the sponge is not the water. It is the same when I immerse myself in God. God fills my heart, and I am in complete union with God, but I am not God, and God is not I. We are distinct though not separate.

    People are very different from one another – in character, temperament, and abilities – even though we are all created in the image of God. Indeed, if all the flowers in the world were of the same color and scent, the very face of the earth would lose its charm. When the sun’s rays pass through colored glass, the color does not change, but the sun highlights and reveals its varied hues, its true charm. So the sun of righteousness shines through the varied characters of spiritual men and women, revealing God’s boundless glory and love.

    Contributed By SadhuSundarSingh Sadhu Sundar Singh

    Known in his lifetime as India’s most famous convert to Christianity, Sundar Singh would not approve of that characterization. He loved Jesus and devoted his life to knowing and following him, bringing to life his teachings for millions of Indians.

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