What follows is my understanding of what Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have said about prayer. My understanding is not faultless, however crystallising it by writing gives me a better understanding and might help others .
In the absolute sense, the essence of all that exists is the Divine. Hence there should be no need of prayer. But all of us have not reached that state of realisation. However as we evolve we start to get an inkling that there is a Power which sustains the world and we want to relate to it. We aspire to be in contact with that Power. We want that Power to satisfy our desires and needs. We ask him for something material or something non material. This is what we commonly understand as prayer. Irrespective of what we ask, the process of asking establishes the beginning of a relationship which culminates ultimately in the union with the Divine. It might take years, ages, multiple life-times or eons but it is bound to happen. We start praying as a servant, then as a son, a friend and finally as a lover. Prayer then leads to bliss and union. Prayer becomes the means and the end.
One important condition for the success of prayer is that we should have a child-like trust that whatever we ask, we will get, and the Divine will give us whatever we need. The Divine will guide you by giving and not-giving and gradually we will come to realise that whatever happens is for the best. If we pray with a sincere heart, we will then not ask, but say, “Thy will be done.” We become an instrument of the Divine. However the Divine understands. If you want to pray for wealth, health, family prosperity, do so. The Divine will give it and guide you. If he does not, then remember how you do not give everything that your child asks for. Remember that the Divine has a reason for not giving what you asked. If you put your faith fully in the Divine, he will not disappoint you.
Prayer is very powerful. As Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, ” More things can be wrought by prayer than men can dream of.” Sincere prayer with child like trust, great humility and great aspiration can change fate and destiny. Just like the sun melts the butter, the Divine can melt away all fate and destiny has destined.
You just need to remember this with sincere humble heart and with great certainty:
” What I need will be given to me; if I pray I shall have an answer; if I am in a difficulty and ask for help, the help will come – and not only will it come but it will manage everything.”