If you really know what prayer is, prayer itself has its own reward. The reward is not there in the future, not in the afterlife. But praying itself is such a beautiful phenomenon that who cares about the future and who bothers about the reward? That is greed, the idea of reward.
Prayer in itself is such a celebration, it brings such great joy and ecstasy, that one prays for prayer’s sake. One does not pray out of fear and one does not pray out of greed. One prays because one enjoys it. One does not even bother whether there is a God or not.
If you enjoy dance you don’t ask whether there is a God or not. If you enjoy dance, you simply dance! The dance is enough of a reward in itself. If you love singing you sing. Whether anybody listens or not is not the point.
Fear is fear. It does not matter of what, of whom. The object makes no difference. Your subjectivity is full of fear. And if you are God-fearing you can never be God-loving.
Fear is just opposite of love. Hate is not really the opposite of love. Hate is love standing upside down. You cannot be afraid of God if you understand what God is. This total universe is God. In fact, there is no god as a person. The whole existence permeated, overflowing, with a quality called godliness. It is in the flower and in the grass and in the stars. It is in you, it is everywhere. The whole existence is made of stuff called godliness. God is not a person. How can you be afraid?
And if you follow a religious life out of fear it will be the life of a slave, not a man who is free. And if you start in fear you cannot end in freedom. You will end in slavery. And all that you will do out of fear is going to be wrong. It is going to false, superficial.
People who are loving even…even love is nothing but a fear: diplomacy, a strategy, to keep this running smoothly. And that’s is why you pray regularly. Morning, evening, you go on praying, hoping that God will hear your prayer. There is no body to hear your prayers! Your prayer is simply a monologue. You are praying to the empty sky. Nobody is going to reward you for your prayers, remember it.
So is a prayer. It is a dance, it is a song, it is music, it is love. You enjoy it, and there it is finished. Prayer is the means and prayer is the end. The ends and means not separate. Only then do you know what prayer is. And prayer is far more important than God. Once you have learned to pray, forget all about God. Prayer itself is enough, more that enough.
Prayers means surrender. Prayer means bowing down to existence. Prayer means gratitude. Prayer means thankfulness. Prayer means, “I am happy that I am.” Prayer simply means, “This tremendous gift of life is so much for such an unworthy man like me. I don’t deserve it, yet the unknown has showered it on me.” In seeing it gratitude arises.
You will absolutely have to drop the fear of God. Only then you will know what godliness is, and only then you will know what love is, and only then you will know what being religious means, what it is all about.