The Working of Prayer
To confess our sins in prayer and to think that they are thereby washed away or removed is a mistake. This kind of mistake keeps us away from true spirituality. Our sins will only be forgiven when the Lord or the Master forgives them. Actually, such prayers may become the cause of evil. A man may offer such prayers and then keep on committing sins without hesitation. And all the while he goes on praying under the false impression that his sins will be forgiven as a result of his prayers.
The Master comes to persuade men to give up sin and to unite them with the Lord. Our duty is to act in accordance with His wishes and to give up all evil deeds – which are worldly. We may thus save ourselves from sins and – by the practice of Naam and remembrance – unite ourselves with the Lord. Love for the Lord and the Master reforms us, and makes us follow the path of the Lord. Man may forgive, but it is the all pervading power of the Master which ultimately reforms a sinner.
How can we become true, how will the chain of untruth be broken? Oh Nanak, it is written that the Master's will should be obeyed.
To cry to the Lord for forgiveness and to think that we can then commit more sins is a mistake. Diseases are punishments for sins. When there has been a sin, it can only be atoned for by undergoing suitable punishment. The root cause of all sins is identifying oneself with the body. Unless we rise above bodily considerations, thoughts of sensual pleasures and desires to enjoy them do not disappear.
Many a seeker gets into trouble, because his search for pleasures leads to disease. The desire for pleasures does not go without submitting to His will. Till then one wanders.
Maru M1, 1034-16
To think that His mercy is dependent on requests made through prayer is a mistake. He does not forgive or punish as a result of whether or not we ask for forgiveness. This is to make prayer an instrument to permit the committing of sins. The Master acts with great circumspection and consideration. On the one hand He forgives sins; and on the other He restrains the disciple from committing them in future so that he may become clean and pure.
Prayer cannot change the principle of truth, nor can it enable one to understand it. It is through the attraction of inner love and yearning and by obeying the directions of the Master that we are led to the truth. Our prayers to understand the truth need not be said loudly. Such prayers can be made mentally or by living properly and in His will.
The purpose of prayer is to lead us to act according to the wishes of the Lord. We are weak and feeble. We wish to reach the Lord with the aid of the mercy and strength of the Master. Even though we may fall at every step, that power helps us. It is a law of spirituality that if a disciple takes one step on the path indicated by the Master, the Master takes a hundred steps to meet him. He is the bestower of all benefits. He is beyond praise or comprehension. He is immortal and limitless.
If you take one step to take refuge in the Master, the Master meets you on the way by taking hundreds of steps. If you remember the Master just once, the Master remembers you again and again. Even if your devotion is as small as a fragment of a cowrie shell. The Master showers all benefits on you. The Master is all merciful, His praise is beyond understanding; I bow again and again to the one and incomprehensible Master.
Bhai Gurdas Ji