Hislop: Is not praying to God the same as begging?
Sai: To beg from an equal puts you down and him up. But when you ask God, you rise up to His level. You must ask God. To ask God is perfectly all right. It is not begging.
Hislop: But I had thought that since God knows each problem, that if it was appropriate to remedy the trouble would do so without being asked.
Sai: It is your duty to ask God. Words must be said, and the words must correspond to the thought. The thought must be put into a true word. It is ture enough that the Divinity knows all. But He requires that the true word be said. The mother may know that to maintain life the child requires food. But milk is given when the child asks for it.
Hislop: Then it is really all right to ask God?
Sai: When there is a real need, God should be asked to provide. A child asks parents for peppermint candy, and the parents give it. When older, it asks the parents for property, and receives it. It is by right that the child asks, and it is by right that it receives. A child may ask a stranger for peppermint once or twice and expects to receive it. But even if he asks for it, he may not expect to receive property from a stranger. God is not bothered by a multitude of small requests, and He will certainly give property (things of great value). Therefore, one should always ask God to meet needs. It is the individual’s right to ask. There is no question of begging.
Hislop: Swami said that in praying to God, the petitioner raises himself to the level of God. In order to make such a prayer, in what state or condition should one first put himself?
Sai: It is not necessary to put oneself into any particular state of meditation.
Hislop: Usually, the idea is that one should go to a quiet place and be in a quiet mood when he wishes to pray.
Sai: Whenever and wherever you put yourself in touch with God, that is the state of meditation. You may feel that 1 p.m. in California is not a good time to call Me, for I may be asleep in India and I should not be disturbed. I know you have felt like that once or twice. But, I am omnipresent; I have no such limitations. I never sleep. In the middle of night, I turn off the light and rest in bed, because if the light is on, devotees will gather. I have no need of sleep. But you need at least 4 hours of sleep.
Hislop: If I am walking in the street with people around and my mind is engaged with things I must do, is that a good time for prayer?
Sai: At the beginning, one might need some special set of circumstances for clearing the mind for concentration on god. But after a while, if one finds that god is omnipresent and becomes aware of Him and one’s thoughts are centered on God, then no matter where you are it is the same. Prayers may be addressed to God and the prayer will reach Him.
“A person driving a car concentrates on the road, for he is anxious to save himself and others from accident. Fear is what induces single-mindedness in his case. Love is a greater force for giving concentration. If you have steady and resolute love, the concentration becomes intense and unshakeable. Faith develops into love and love results in concentration. Prayer is possible and begins to yield fruit, under such conditions. Pray, using the Name as a symbol of the Lord; pray keeping all the waves of the mind stilled. Pray, as the performance of a duty for your very real existence, as the only justification for your coming into the world, as man.” – Birthday Discourse, 23-11-1961