Prarthana, or praying, is your direct line of communication with God and His gunatit sadhu at times when you feel abandoned or lost. Prarthana is the key to overcoming obstacles and to finding solace in life. Prarthana provides a medium through which sorrows can be shared and comfort can be received from the selfless love of Bhagwan and His sadhu. Simply close your eyes and think of Bhagwan and His sadhu.
Some of the most renowned prarthanas in the Hindu tradition are mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana. Gajendra, the King of the Elephants, prays to Vishnu to save him from a crocodile pulling away at his feet in the middle of the stream. It symbolizes his last and final cry of desperation. Bhagwan Vishnu comes to save Gajendra.
A similar prarthana by Draupadiji, the wife of the Pandavas, is mentioned in the Mahabharata. After being dragged to the courtroom by the evil Dushasana to be undressed in front of the very eyes of Hastinapura, Draupadiji tries to ask the Pandavas, five mighty warriors, for help. After that fails, she tries to hold on to the cloth of the sari in the grip of her teeth. When her teeth let go of the last bit of cloth, she prays to Shri Krishna for his support. Shri Krishna aids her and keeps feeding spool after spool of cloth until the evil Dushasana stops pulling her sari. This prarthana highlights Draupadiji’s failed attempts for help from everyone around her except God. She realizes that she should have prayed to and sought refuge in Shri Krishna first.
Bal-Bhakta Prahlad’s prayer to Vishnu was of a different kind. After Nrusinh avatar kills Prahlad’s evil father, Hiranyakashyapu, Bhakta Prahlad asks for true protection. He prays to be saved from the attacks of his base instincts. This prayer symbolizes the importance of asking for the ‘right things’—true protection should be sought from our inner desires and not physical or material troubles.
In the Swaminarayan Sampraday, the prarthana by Yogiji Maharaj to his guru Shastriji Maharaj in Mahelav asks for the same. It asks for protection from his inner vices. He asks for positive perspective and the ability to understand the glory of God, His sadhu, and His devotees. This prarthana is published in its entirety in the Yogi Gita.