Principles and Concepts

Should we ask for worldly things in prayer?

Real prayer is deep and inward; it is a dialogue between man and God. It is being in companionship with the Almighty.

Man’s friendship with God should enable him to grow like Him. In the fleeting moments of “vision”, man forgets his body and the world he lives in. He unites with his Lord and Benefactor.

Real prayer is pure adoration and dedication. It has no ulterior aim, no worldly things to gain. Prayer based on material desire, defeats its own purpose.

ਮ: ੫ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਤੁਧੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਿ ਮੰਗਣਾ ਸਿਰਿ ਦੁਖਾ ਕੈ ਦੁਖ ॥
ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਆ ਉਤਰੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਭੁਖ ॥
ਗੁਰਿ ਵਣੁ ਤਿਣੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਕੀਤਿਆ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਿਆ ਮਨੁਖ ॥੨॥
“Fifth Mehl: To ask for any other than You, Lord, is the most miserable of miseries.
Please bless me with Your Name, and make me content; may the hunger of my mind be satisfied.
The Guru makes the (dried up) woods and meadows green again. O Nanak! is it any wonder that He blesses human beings as well? ||2||”
(Ang 958)

Man has been described as God’s bride. Just as the wife makes all her needs and demands to her husband, so in the same way, man makes his request to God. As a good husband would meet the requirements of his spouse, and give her guidance and help, so God helps his servants.

According to Sikh religion, worldly things can be demanded in prayer, but on principle, they should not be asked for. Things which render service to the soul and advance man on the spiritual plane can be requested. Guru Nanak requested God to give him contentment, humility and His Name. The remembrance and praise of God, is the only thing a devotee needs.

Should we ask for worldly things and He in His grace gives them to us, we never feel contented. No man feels that he has enough. He does not know what is good for him. When God does not grant his prayer, he blames God and curses His creation. God does like to bless him but it is sin or sloth which prevents the blessing coming through. It is ego which prompts one to ask for this thing or that for oneself. This is contrary to the principle of submission to the Will of God.

Instead of asking for worldly things, the Sikh must put his trust in God and entreat Him to do what He thinks best. The Almighty never fails those who surrender themselves completely to Him.

In the Sikh supplication, the Ardaas or general Prayer, a Sikh prays for the constant remembrance of the Name and the welfare of all mankind. The right prayer creates hope, confidence and courage in the individual.