Internal Difficulties – The Heart’s Ground for Prayer
The Heart’s Ground for Prayer: It is necessary to prepare the heart for praying. This consists of praying in humility and with reverence and devotion.
Guru Angad Sahib says, "The Lord knows all, and is the cause of all that happens. He has the power to fulfil our desires by Himself. Stand before Him and pray in all humility."
He knows all; He can do everything Himself; oh Nanak! Stand before Him and beg humbly and earnestly.
Maru M2, 1093-3
Guru Arjan Sahib also enjoins praying with both hands folded. Pray with folded hands.
Bkairav M5, 1152-6
The second requirement for praying is that the wavering of the mind should be stilled and that the mind should be focussed on some inner center and concentrated there again and again. Until the mind is stilled at some centre, both the seekers and the followers of the inner path weep at the antics of the mind. When we withdraw our thoughts from the external world and try to focus them on a centre in the invisible world, our pent-up thoughts and fears due to our sins in the past come to the surface of themselves. They should either be eliminated by calm and cool reasoning or removed by praying. The best way to remove these difficulties is to conjure up the form of the Master inside ourselves and to lose ourselves in contemplation of him. (See chapter on Contemplation). It is this kind of constant contemplation which opens the way to the Lord and makes us fit for His mercy.
In inner praying, a seeker sometimes meets with difficulties due to receiving no apparent response to his prayers. He may then begin to feel that there is no truth behind it. Not feeling the presence of the Lord, the seeker feels as if he is praying in a void. Some seekers rely on the fact that though they do not see the Lord, He sees them. But this state does not last for long. On closing the eyes, we see a vast expanse of darkness and see nothing beyond it. We take this silence as a response to our prayers. The senses cannot function in this silence, and the seeker feels in this state of unconsciousness that he has lost the way. He wishes to walk further on the strength of faith, but he falls again and again. It is a very delicate stage and requires the guidance of a Master. In addition, a certain amount of dryness enters our mind. It does not want to pray. If it is forcibly made to pray, the desire to do so fades away. A seeker has to spend a long time in this stage of dryness and darkness, and many a time his efforts prove fruitless and he does not find the abode of the Lord. These illusions of Maya and Kal mislead a seeker. The method of removing them is to be steady in contemplating on the inner image of the Master and in trying to achieve one-pointedness.