Praying is to the soul
what breathing is to the body.
It infuses one with spiritual energy.
That is why it is often said :
No Prayer - No Power,
Little Prayer - Little Power,
Much Prayer - Much Power.'THE FIFTH FORCE'
The year 1665 was a bleak one in the history of mankind. The city of London was hit by bubonic plague - the Great Plague. Scores of people had already perished and many more were infected badly. People fled the city in panic. A young man also left the capital and returned to his native Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire.
One fine morning, he went to an orchard and relaxed under an apple tree. He was wondering about the force which was helping to keep the moon in orbit, when an apple suddenly landed on his head. He pondered deeper and a chain of thoughts began to take shape in his mind. A few years later, in 1687, the young man cracked the mystery and proposed the theory of gravity. The young man was no other than Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists in history. He gave us the theory of gravity which is the first force in science. There are four recognised forces in all:
The second force, the electromagnetic force, was discovered by James Maxwell in 1864.
The third force, called the strong nuclear force, and responsible for binding the protons and neutrons to one another in the atomic nucleus, was discovered by Hideku Yukawa in 1935.
The fourth force, knowns as the weak nuclear force and responsible for some radioactive phenomena, was discovered by Cheng Yang, a Chinese-born American physicist.
In addition to these four forces of science, there is a 'fifth force' which was 'discovered' by mankind many aeons ago and has been used to great practical effect ever since. This is the force of prayer.
There is a telling incident in the great epic Mahabharat. The Pandavas were exiled into forest for 14 years. The story goes that Bheema had a vow of only eating after offering his prayers to Lord Shiva. It was rare to come across a shrine of Lord Shiva in the middle of the jungle. Consequently, on many occasions Bheema went without a meal. One day, Arjuna felt pity on his brother.
"Come quick brother!" he shouted in excitement. "I have found a Shivling for you to pray." (A Shivling is a symbolic stone representing Lord Shiva.) Bheema rushed to the scene and found a Shivling covered in dry leaves under a tree. Without a moment's hesitation, he knelt down to offer his prayer. Arjuna looked on, quite satisfied with himself. He had, as a matter of fact, placed a gourd upside down in the ground so that it would appear like a Shivling. He thought he had done a great favour to his brother. After Bheema's prayer, everyone had their meal. Arjuna then broke the news. Bheema was upset and demanded to see the gourd. They quickly walked over to the tree. Arjuna's eyes fell on the gourd. Just as he was about to pick it up, he was surprised. The object had turned into a stone Shivling. Arjuna was moved by his brother's sincere devotion. The force of Bheema's prayer had transformed the gourd into a real Shivling. This demonstrates the powerful potential of prayer.
Prayer and Health
Prayer is a force whose effects are felt in medical science.
A recent article in the 'Time' magazine highlighted the effects of prayer on the body and mind. The article, dated 24 June 1996, goes on to say:
"...a growing and surprising body of scientific evidence says that prayer can heal." The writer cites a few interesting studies:
o A 1995 study at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre concentrated on 232 heart surgery patients. Those who prayed and drew comfort and strength from religious faith had less risk of death. Those who did not had three times the death rate.
o Men and Women who attend church regularly have half the risk of dying from coronary artery disease compared to those who do not attend church regulary.
Herbert Benson who wrote 'Timeless Healing' and 'The Relaxation Response' says:
"Prayer leads to lower blood pressure, a more relaxed heart and respiration. The chances of depression are less too."
o In 1996, the National Institute of Aging studied 4000 elderly in North Carolina. It was found that those who attended services are less depressed and physically healthier.
o Non-church goers have been found to have a suicide rate four times higher than church goers.
Based on these studies more and more American medical schools are adding courses on holistic and alternative medicine with titles like "caring for the soul".
We can conclude quite emphatically that a prayerless person is a powerless person.
Prayer Means Progress
If prayer can bring about a change in nature, space and body, it has the power to change the mind too. Gandhiji, the great stalwart of Indian's freedom struggle, was a frail man. He was not outstandingly brilliant or influential. But he had charged his mind with indomitable faith in God. Once, even Churchill conceded, "I fear the old man from India."
Churchill was a leader of a victorious nation.
Gandhiji was a leader of a slave nation.
Why would Churchill be afraid of Gandhiji?
Because the latter drew strength from prayer and faith. He used to say, "All my successes in the political field are due to my experiments in the spiritual field."
Gandhiji took prayers seriously. He used to pray twice a day. He frequently said, "I would have been a lunatic long ago without prayer." For him prayer was a key to the morning and a bolt to the evening.
Churchill himself turned to prayer when Hitler reached France and was just about to conquer Britain.
Victor Hugo put it aptly when he said, "Sometimes whatever the position or the attitude of the body and mind, the soul is always on its knees."
When 300,000 soldiers had to face the German army for the D-Day invasion, President Eisenhower's last words were "You have no friend out there except God."
He often saidt, "Personal prayer, it seems to me, is one of the basic necessities of life, as basic to the individual as sunshine, food and water." Quite clearly, prayer is a force to be reckoned with. A force is something which explains a certain phenomena, for example, the falling of an apple from an apple tree. Prayer as a force explains the work of faith because prayer is the voice of faith.
Charles Steinmetz, an electrical engineer and the pioneer of A.C. systems noted, "I think the greatest discoveries will be made along spiritual lines. Some day people will realise that material things do not bring happiness. Then the scientists of the world will turn their labs over to the study of God and prayer. When that day comes, the world will see more advancement in one generation than it has seen in the last four."
Need we say more.