About two weeks ago, I was at a temple in Fatehpur Sikri, about an hour away from the Taj Mahal. There was a praying spot where we were told to give offerings and make a wish–for long life, good health, children, etc. It reminded me of one issue that I’ve thought about for quite some time:
Why do we make wishes for ourselves?
It seems almost counter-intuitive to me that when we pray, we make rather self-centered wishes. Shouldn’t we be praying for world peace? Shouldn’t we be praying for alleviation of poverty? Shouldn’t we be praying for love to supplant the hatred in our world? Isn’t the act of praying imply some sense of transcending the desires of the self? It doesn’t make sense to me.
This thought dawned upon me a couple years ago, and since then when I pray, I thank God for my past fortunes. Then I pray for hope in the world. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s right to wish for our own better lives. I think our lives are made better, knowing that we are here to serve a larger purpose.
Perhaps next time, when we make a wish, we can think about those who need the prayers more than we do. It brings much more joy than asking for the winning lottery ticket.