A friend of mine is trying to take the Bar Exam. I am thinking I should pray for him to perform well. What kind of prayer should I make?
I would recommend inviting your friend to the temple and chanting the Odaimoku together, praying to the Buddha for the best possible guidance for him or her.
Passing the Bar Exam is what your friend wishes, but there is no way of knowing whether passing the exam and becoming a lawyer is the best thing for his or her life. Only the Buddha knows which way to go, seeing through his or her past, present, and future life.
If taking the Bar Exam is what your friend strongly desires now, help and support him or her as much as you can. Your friend will surely learn something important by making every effort to pass the exam. Sometimes, even failing an exam could be one of the best turning points. Passing or failing the exam itself is not so important from the viewpoint of the Buddha (according to your karma).
I do not recommend praying for “passing the exam” because if your friend fails the exam, he or she will probably think that the HBS faith is not responsive, even though the Buddha tried to answer and lead your friend the right way. If the Buddha judged that becoming a lawyer wouldn’t bring you happiness and truly benefit your friend’s life (according to his or her karma), then the Buddha wouldn’t let your friend pass that exam. No matter how earnestly you may pray, if the Buddha deems that passing the bar exam is not in the best interest of your friend, your prayers will not be answered. Ultimately, the Buddha knows best.
If your friend is not an HBS member yet, the best thing you can do is suggest that he or she chants the Odaimoku with you, praying to the Buddha for the best guidance for his or her life. When someone starts chanting the Odaimoku, they will be able to solve any problem as they awaken to their own Buddha-nature. The best Goriyaku (benefit) will always be giving others the opportunity to encounter and obtain the faith of the Odaimoku. In short, you should always pray to the Buddha for the conversion of others. This prayer is what we call Shōbō Kinyū—leading people back to the true, Buddhist Dharma, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō.
an HBS-member Brazilian woman