A Rather Well-Done Explanation of Prayer
I came across a Christian proselytizing booklet on prayer. Upon reading I saw that there is much wisdom in the booklet – much similarity between the Christian and Islamic concepts of prayer. As such, I decided to adapt and summarize the booklet below so that it may benefit Christians, Muslims and whoever else who seek spirituality behind their prayers, insha’Allah.
What is prayer? Prayer is a dialogue between God and God’s people. We express our love for God (1) in our response to God and he way God works in our lives, (2) in a fellowship of our minds and hearts with God’s purpose and (3) in a spiritual exercise that draws us close.
We tell God about our needs – we ask and God answers (1) spiritually – intimate communication with God fills a need in the soul that cannot be met in any other way, (2) emotionally – God can calm our hearts when our own strength fails, (3) mentally – sharing our thoughts with God brings divine guidance to problem-solving and (4) physically – faith is one of the strongest of all paths to bodily health.
Why pray? People have always felt the need to be more intimate with God. God gave us prayer to fill this special need.
People pray (1) to glorify God in thanks for God’s greatest gift – guidance to the Right Path, (2) for comfort in a time of need (just as God’s prophets did in the past – should we do less?), (3) to feel God’s presence and know Him directly in our lives and (4) to experience God’s forgiveness – so God might witness our willingness to do better.
How do I pray? …By involving yourself completely with God. Think – use your mind fully to try to understand him, think through the hardest questions you have about the world and concentrate as fully as you can. Feel – your emotions will help you to speak to God, so don’t hide them but rather express them, and realize that God speaks to the heart as well as the mind. Will – be totally YOU when you pray, be open and giving during joyous prayer and promise to grow and be strong in troubled prayer.
Some conditions for effective prayer include (1) being prepared in heart and mind, putting other tasks away and reading Scripture before praying; (2) realizing the presence of God in your life – feel his nearness; (3) being confident and pray with faith, expecting your prayers to be answered, (4) being receptive to God message to you and accept His wisdom instead of “preaching” to God; (5) devoting yourself to God with all your love and desire, putting yourself totally in God’s control and surrendering your life to God; (6) being modest in the way your pray – don’t pray to show off to others but rather think of prayer as a dialogue between you and God (7) discipline yourself with daily prayer and be both consistent and persistent; and (8) be unselfish as you pray by asking yourself for whom you are praying, and by not ignoring others for your own interests.
Some obstacles to effective praying include (1) selfishness in temptation to ask for personal materialistic benefits at the expense of what is truly important, (2) lack of faith by loosing confidence when we don’t get our wish or by thinking our prayers are too small or unimportant, (3) impatience in being lazy in prayer and asking for God’s time without giving God ours, (4) dishonesty in pretending to be what we are not and covering up instead of revealing, (5) ignorance in forgetting that God may have a different plan for things and that we don’t always have the “right” answer and (6) an unforgiving spirit in condemning instead of loving and thinking ourselves “holier” than others. Avoid the characteristics of this paragraph!
Some kind of prayers include (1) thanksgiving by offering our prayers in return for God’s gifts to us (such as body, mind and life), (2) repentance by coming to terms with our sins and failures and asking for His forgiveness, (3) praise in worshiping Him and His greatness and love in the highest, most personal way, (4)petition by asking for our needs of health, strength, etc., intercession by praying for the sick, for our “enemies” and for both those who are guided by God and those who need His guidance.
Do you include in your prayers the church/masjid, religious organizations, your pastor/imam, your friends and “enemies”, people who need God, the sick, world peace and victory over temptation?
You can recite some of the prayers taught to us in our Scripture and/or pray in your own words to give it personal meaning!
When should I pray? Prayer cannot be overdone, so pray at (1) special times such as on religious holidays, remembrance of joy or in time of tragedy or need, (2) in fellowship with your community, prayer groups or with your family, and (3) alone, when you have to time for personal meditation and in spontaneous “flash” prayers throughout the day. So pray anytime – God doesn’t have “office hours”!
Will our prayers be answered? Our Scriptures tell us that true prayers are always answered…but the answer may not be what we expected! The answer could be (1) no – when God has a plan different than yours or when your prayer is insincere or selfish, (2) wait – your faith must be long (as in long-lasting) as well as strong or (3) yes – when you are spiritually right with God and when your prayers are strong and unselfish.
Past prophets should the power of prayer, such as Musa (Moses) (AS), Yaqub (Jacob) (AS), Isa (Jesus) (AS) and Muhammad (SAW).
So, prayer is our source of spiritual growth, God’s forgiveness, faith-building and God’s guidance. Prayer improves your attitudes, commitment and degree of faith so that your prayers will be answered according to what is best for you.
Start your personal program of prayer today, insha’Allah!
Adapted and abridged from:
“What Every Christian Should Know about Prayer” . A SCRIPTOGRAPHIC BOOKLET by CHANNING L. BETE CO., INC., South Deefield, MA 01373, USA. 1974.
For some verses of the Qur’an and ahadith supporting the points made above from an Islamic perspective, please follow the following links, insha’Allah, and try searching for the merits, benefits and etiquette of du’a: