Brahman, certainly does not. Brahman recognizes no distinct entities, so there is no one to hear and no one to answer.
Paramātmā is absolutely neutral. You may pray to him for something, but you will only get it if you deserve it. Perhaps the praying is part of showing that you deserve something, but it is not the prayer that brings the result, it is the merit related to the prayerful attitude. Paramātmā doesn’t reward something undeserved, no matter how fervently it is prayed for. Nor does he sympathize with our non-neutral preferences.
Bhagavān does not interact with the external world. He interacts with his own world. He, too, therefore, does not hear and answer prayers. But he responds to love. So if the “prayers” are requests to establish a loving relationship with him, and not requests for tangential, temporary rewards and fixes, he will certainly respond.
Thus, it seems that the idea of a “God” answering prayers is superstitious.
Babaji: What about the Gita verse, caturvidha bhajante mam?
Question: Bhajante means “they worship”. It indicates that they execute some sort of sakāma-bhakti. I guess praying is a form of worship, though.
Then God will answer someone’s sakāma prayers, even if they don’t deserve it?
If this is the case, I would like to pray for one million dollars, to be honest. So why won’t it work?
Babaji: Who says it will not work? It may.
Question: What causes it to be only a “maybe”?
Babaji: That ask Krsna. Maybe your sincerity.
Question: Then what becomes of the rule of karma, if I can simply pray for a million dollars and get it, without having the sukrti for it?
Karma is a mechanism to improve the jīvas and help them experience happiness. If a person sincerely worships God, they are beginning to achieve the ultimate result of that mechanism, therefore it is not important to as strictly enforce the mechanism. Thus, those who sincerely do bhakti to Krishna (which can include prayer) can get results from Krishna which are not warranted by their karma. Is this right?
Babaji: Yes. In this regard you may consult the following verses:
satyaṁ diśaty arthitam arthito nṛṇāṁ
naivārthado yat punar arthitā yataḥ
svayaṁ vidhatte bhajatām anicchatām
God certainly gives desired objects to those who request them, but he does not give those objects in such a way that the devotee will ask again. Rather, He gives his own lotus feet, which satisfy all desires, to those who are engaged in His worship, even if they not even desire them. (SB 5.19.27)
yat karmabhir yat tapasā jñāna-vairāgyataś ca yat
yogena dāna-dharmeṇa śreyobhir itarair api
sarvaṁ mad-bhakti-yogena mad-bhakto labhate ‘ñjasā
svargāpavargaṁ mad-dhāma kathañcid yadi vāñchati
That which can be achieved by karma, austerities, knowledge, detachment and by yoga, charity, righteous activities and all other means of prosperity is easily achieved by My devotee through bhakti yoga. If somehow or other My devotee desires the heavenly planets, liberation, or residence in My abode, he easily achieves such benedictions. (SB 11.20.32-33)
devān bhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ
parasparaṁ bhāvayantaḥ śreyaḥ param avāpsyatha
Nourish the devas through this yajña, and [by so doing] may the devas be gracious to you. Thus, through mutual benevolence, you shall attain the highest welfare. (Gītā 3.11)
sa tayā śraddhayā yuktas tasyārādhanam īhate
labhate ca tataḥ kāmān mayaiva vihitān hi tān
Endowed with that faith, the devotee worships that particular deity and obtains through that deity the desired boons which are in fact granted by Me alone. (Gītā 7.22 )
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