What is important, of course, is the effort one makes in chanting, but receiving the holy name is also very important. It is a relationship, and we should want to deepen that relationship with Krsna and the holy name. When we make a commitment to a person, then there is both what we extend and what we receive -- the give and take. In our case, we are with Krsna and we are offering some service. So in our relationship with the holy name, the mood of service is very important. Simply chant as a service to the holy name. When we do that, what does the holy name do in turn? We should be ready to receive that which Krsna in the form of the holy name is extending to us. And we should be very open to whatever that is, because it is a relationship. We should especially bear in mind that the relationship with God is always on His terms. He is always the master and we are His servants.
Establish the relationship, or uncover and deepen that relationship we already have in this receptive mood, because many mysteries happen when we chant like that. The journey with the holy name itself is very mysterious. The theme of all of these is that our relationship with the holy name is deepening, even when the reciprocation is not necessarily according to our expectation. Sometimes it seems very painful to see devotees struggle, being in a valley while chanting, but that is also a relationship if we regard the situation properly.
We all can pray like this: "I am ready, on Your terms Krsna, please show me the way through this chanting of Your holy name that I can find myself more close to You in a deeper sense of relationship and connectiveness with You in the form of Your holy name". So be in the mode of receiving and be committed to the relationship with the holy name.
-- From a lecture by HH Romapada Swami titled 'Entering the Mood of the Retreat' during a Japa Retreat, delivered on September 2008 in Gita Nagari, Pennsylvania, US.