The Bhagavad Gita recommends Bhakti Yoga towards attaining moksha . Krishna tells Arjuna that a person who thinks of Him at least at the time of his death is liberated of all his sins. A surprised Arjuna asks Krishna how one could foresee the time of his death.
Krishna tells Arjuna, he should think of Him while carrying out his prescribed duty. With his activities dedicated to Him and his mind and intelligence fixed upon Him, he would attain Him.
Krishna explains the four types of devotional service rendered to Him: One who thinks of Him at the time of distress is the aartha. One who is worried by the struggle for prosperity, power, self and property is the Artha-arthi .
A third who yearns for the realisation of the atman , reads the scriptures and sacred texts, moves in the company of spiritual practitioners, and is always motivated by eagerness to reach the lotus feet of the Lord is the jijnaasu . The fourth is the jnani . He is immersed in the Brahmathathwam and looks for the Lord in all possible places; he yearns for nothing.
The aartha worships Him only when he is in difficulty. When he prays to Him, the Lord hears it and satisfies him only in relation to that particular difficulty. So too, when the artha- arthi prays for riches, power or high status, He listens and awards him only the particular thing he craves for.
The jijnaasu is blessed with the chance to work without expecting the fruit of activity, with a Guru as guide, with an intellect that is sharp enough to discriminate between atma and anatma , and so is helped to achieve his goal. The jnani needs His help to be saved from distractions and is able to concentrate on the single aim of liberation.
Lord Krishna regards the jijnaasu and jnani as the ideal. The devotion of Gajendra , the elephant that was saved by the Lord from the mouth of the crocodile, was aartha. Sudama, Krishna's friend, exchanged beaten rice for richness, displaying artha-arthi devotion.
The devotion of Gora Kumbar, the ardent devotee of Panduranga Vittal was of jijnaasu , thinking of the Lord always, knowing that He is present to look after his and his family's welfare. Prahalad was a jnani who saw the Lord in all things and surrendered himself completely to the Lord.
Devotion is not only a way of asking for material gains or the answer to unlimited wants. It can also be a thanksgiving for all the good He has given us. He would give us what we deserve. A prayer that is done without any expectation or desire is indeed the best.
Prayer lightens the heaviness of our heart by making it receptive to God. Prayer is expecting God to decide what is best for us when we are in a dilemma. Prayer is not asking, but a communion with God through single-minded devotion; it helps us to be disciplined.
It is a tuning of the mind through meditation. Prayer is surrendering oneself to God completely, and letting the mind and ego merge in silence. Prayer represents a mystic state when the individual consciousness is absorbed in God. It is an act of uplifting the soul through love and adoration for Him.
Devotion to God is tonic for the soul. When the mind becomes pure through the power of prayer, the intellect becomes sharp and keen. It elevates the mind and exempts us from the fear of death and brings us closer to God. Prayer can work wonders. Healing by prayer is not uncommon.
Mahatma Gandhi says: "Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening, there is no peace without the grace of God, and there is no grace of God without Prayer."