DOES PRAYER REALLY WORK? A TRUE STORY
Maggie H is a Global Explorer and Wellness Advocate from Hong Kong. Among many spiritual endeavors, Maggie practices and leads Qigong meditation to help people around the world find their inner balance. Find out more about this and other Eastern Philosophy & Meditation practices every Monday on the ICBRKR blog.
When I recently discussed whether prayers really work with a Buddhist nurse, she shared this beautiful true story with me, which I'd like to now share with you.
Not so long ago, a group of young monks studying at a big temple were curious about this very question: do prayers really work? They decided to test the theory on themselves. Surely, their teacher would have disapproved of this type of impious and faithless act, so it had to be done surreptitiously.
They decided to put together a few miraculous and powerful prayers they knew, and pray sincerely for 100 days. They each chipped in to buy a lottery ticket with random numbers they picked together. They searched for the safest spot in the temple where nobody would look or even suspect... and placed the lottery ticket under the Buddha statue at the altar of the main dharma hall. What a flawless plan!
Once the perfect plan was set, they secretly got together and did their own initiation for the 100-day prayers, keeping Buddha and Bodhisattvas in the loop. From the very first day, they recited appropriate mantras, sutras, prostrations, visualizations and anything they had ever learned as student monks. Their prayers were ever so earnest and sincere for a solid one hundred days. I suspect some part of it must have been about what they would do with their expected winnings, should their blessings work.
On the one hundredth day, they waited until the official schedule had ended. Then, in accordance with the Buddhist custom, they dedicated the merits of the secret prayers to the happiness and liberation of all living beings, before rushing to check if they had indeed won the lottery.
Lo and behold, the random numbers they had picked and prayed for for one hundred days won the first prize! The sum of money was large enough for them to buy a new house. They were beside themselves with excitement and gratitude but couldn't express it to anyone in the temple. In the evening, when everyone had gone to bed, they gathered at the main dharma hall to pick up the lottery ticket placed under the Buddha statue.
They bowed three times to the Buddha and approached the statue before carefully pulling out the envelope below. But the envelope didn't contain the lottery ticket they had placed; in its stead, they found a handwritten letter.
As it turned out, a person who had been suffering from a series of misfortunes and had lost everything had prayed whole-heartedly to be blessed with a chance to start a new life. One night, a Bodhisattva appeared in his dream and told him to go to this particular temple at night and search under the Buddha statue. He doubted the dream to begin with, but then found the lottery ticket with the winning numbers. With this miracle, he was able to clear all his debt and start a small business, which allowed him to send his kids to school. Eternally grateful for the Buddha and Bodhisattvas for answering his prayer, he left the letter to thank the kind person who had placed the winning lottery ticket for him on behalf of the Bodhisattvas.
Do prayers work? Yes, your sincere prayers definitely work. Both prayers from the monks and the lucky man were answered in the end. The only difference is that the monks' prayer didn't have any specific purpose other than being experimental in nature, whereas the lucky man's heartfelt prayer did.
When you pray, ensure that it is sincere and earnest, and put a specific purpose which is grander than just your own benefit. The wider the scope of the prayer, the bigger the help from a higher place.
If you are currently praying for anything, I suggest you include something to benefit all living beings however small it may be. Then be prepared to get pleasantly surprised at how answers magically and majestically unfold.
Maggie H is a Life Cartographer, Eastern philosopher, Qigong master, Buddhist and Taoist meditator, Feng Shui practitioner, and researcher of Buddhist scriptures. She lives in Hong Kong, and regularly travels to both India and South Korea to further her spiritual growth and development. Her lifelong motto is: "benefit to all humankind."
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