Prayer, which is an important connection with God, is demanding in the sense that we demonstrate our weakness in front of Almighty Allah. Our Lord reveals that prayer is an important act of worship with the verse:
Say: ‘What has My Lord to do with you if you do not call on Him? (Al-Furqan 25: 77)
Actually the need to form a connection with Allah exists in every man’s character, entailed in creation. However, while praying is an inseparable part of their lives for believers, for some people it is an act of worship to be remembered only when they face with difficulties or life-threatening situations. However, this is a big mistake because what is truly good is to ask for Allah’s help both in difficulty and ease and to take refuge in His mercy.
Being Determined in Prayer
Allah has made it possible for His servants to reach anything that He sees as good and beautiful. However, being determined in the prayer being made is just as important as the prayer itself. Praying with patience is an indication of the need for the desires prayed for, of the inconvenience about this matter and most importantly an indication that one’s closeness to God has increased. Being determined in prayer makes the believer more mature and bestows on him a strong will and character. A believer who shows determination in prayer gets much in return by earning a deep faith, which is more valuable than most of the things he asked for. It is revealed in the Qur’an that one needs to be determined in prayer as such:
Seek help in steadfastness and prayer. But that is a very hard thing, except for the humble. (Al-Baqarah 2: 45)
Our valuable Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated how much he needs God sometimes by praying for years on and our Lord, the All-Merciful, has given what he asked for at the best time. The fact that God accepts every prayer, both open and hidden, is due to His mightiness and grace. God never leaves any thought which crosses one’s mind without a return. However, “accepting a prayer” does not mean something happening as it was asked for because sometimes a person may be demanding something harmful to himself. Almighty Allah reveals as such about this matter:
Man prays for evil just as he prays for good. Man is prone to be impetuous. (Al-Israa’ 17: 11)
Allah knows best what is good and what is bad for a person because He is the One Who appreciates everything. As with His every work, there are many wonders hidden in the way He accepts prayers. For example, the Prophet Jacob (Ya`qub, peace be upon him) rejoining his son the Prophet Joseph (Yusuf, peace be upon him) after many long years, the Prophet Joseph gaining power and rulership after staying in prison for a long time, the Prophet Job (Ayyub, peace be upon him) being saved from the pain caused by Satan; all of these occurred after showing great patience and continuous prayers. Almighty Allah has accepted the prayers of these sincere servants of His at the best time for them and has made them mature, educated them, increased their loyalty and sincerity and turned them into servants worthy of high degrees in Paradise.
How Does Allah Accept Prayer?
• When a believer prays, he knows that Allah hears him and will always accept his prayer in any way. This is because he realizes that events do not take place in a coincidental way, but according to the destiny determined by Allah and in the way He wills. Therefore, he has no doubt that he will not have any return for his prayer. Praying with this sincere spirit causes great goodness by Allah’s leave. In one verse, it is revealed that our Lord will always accept a prayer as a manifestation of His name “Al-Mujeeb” (The Answerer of Prayers; One Who accepts the demands of those who beg to Him).
If My slaves ask you about Me, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me. They should therefore respond to Me and believe in Me so that hopefully they will be rightly guided. (Al-Baqarah 2: 186)
• The reason that something asked for in a prayer is given with delay, or accepted in a completely different way, could also be that our Lord tests His servants. God may grant His blessings after certain periods of time in order to test the patience of His servants and to make them mature according to a certain reason.
Due to this and similar reasons, it cannot be expected that every prayer is realized as it is asked for and as soon as possible. As it is stated by the great Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman, Allah may give less of something asked for in prayer or sometimes more of it as a reward or because of the reasons we mentioned above He may not grant them at all. However, in every condition, Allah accepts the prayer of the one who prays to Him.
How Did Our Prophets Pray?
Praying is a way of submitting to Allah and all people need prayer. The most erudite example of this is that all Prophets pray to God by submitting to Him in every matter as revealed in the Qur’an. In the prayers of our Prophet and all other prophets, we see both their submission to Allah, the fact that they see Allah as their sole friend and helper and that they praise our Lord’s glory with His most beautiful names.
• The Prayer of Our Prophet
In the prayers of our Prophet Mohammad the most beautiful examples of citing Allah with His names are revealed. One of the verses in which our Prophet’s prayers are mentioned is as follows:
Say, ‘O Allah! Master of the Kingdom! You give sovereignty to whoever You will You take sovereignty from whoever You will. You exalt whoever You will You abase whoever You will. All good is in Your hands. You have power over all things. (Al ‘Imran 3: 26)
In the narrations, it is noted that our Prophet prayed to our Lord to give him a good morality and good nature.
“O Allah! Enhance goodness and ethics! O Divine! Remove from me bad morals!” (At-Tirmidhi, Imam Ahmad)
• The Prayer of Prophet Noah
The patience of Prophet Noah, who called his society to the true religion for years with an exemplary determination, was praised in the Qur’an. He struggled against his society that acted with enmity towards him and the believers who were with him. The fact that Prophet Noah turned to Allah in every situation and prayed by hoping for his help sincerely is a great example for believers. In one verse, it is revealed that God knew the condition Prophet Noah was in and that he prayed as follows:
He called upon his Lord: ‘I am overwhelmed, so help me!’ (Al-Qamar 54: 10)
Allah accepted Prophet Noah’s prayer and commanded him to prepare for the Flood, which was going to take place in future. Prophet Noah began to build a massive ship by the command of Allah, even though there was no sea or lake nearby. During the construction of the ship, he was continuously subject to spiritual pressure by his society. When the time came Allah’s promise was realized and the flood disaster took place.
• The Prayer of Prophet Jonah (Yunus)
In the Qur’an, it is revealed that this valuable prophet of ours separated himself from his people, as they did not respond to his calls. (Surat as-Saffat, 139–142) As it is revealed in the verses, following this, there was a draw in the ship that Prophet Jonah was traveling on and as a result of the draw it was decided that he was to be thrown into the sea. On top of these events, Prophet Jonah submitted to Allah and prayed to Him. Allah revealed this event as such in the Qur’an:
And Jonah when he left in anger and thought We would not punish him. He called out in the pitch darkness: ‘There is no god but You! Glory be to You! Truly I have been one of the wrongdoers.’ We responded to him and rescued him from his grief. That is how We rescue the belivers. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21: 87–88)
As it is revealed in the verses Prophet Yunus confessed his condition sincerely in his prayer. He prayed to God and waited for His help. Our Lord, Who has infinite mercy, accepted his redemption and saved him from the stomach of the fish by accepting his prayer.
• The Prayer of the Prophet Job (Ayyub)
In the Qur’an, the Prophet Ayyub’s patience was mentioned as an example to believers. Prophet Job who received revelations from Allah and who was a selected servant (An-Nisaa’ 4: 163) experienced serious trouble and went through a difficult period. However, despite all of the heavy tribulations he was in, he always set an example for believers with his patience and submission to God:
Truly! We found him patient. How excellent (a) slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance (to Us)! (Saad 38: 44)
The sincere prayer of this holy Prophet was revealed in one verse as follows:
And Job when he called out to his Lord, ‘Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful,’ (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21: 83)
It is revealed in the Qur’an that Almighty Allah accepted the prayer of the Prophet Job who was one of His sincere servants:
We responded to him and removed from him the harm which was afflicting him and restored his family to him, and the same again with them, as a mercy direct from Us and a Reminder to all worshippers. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21: 84)
Prayer, which is an important means to reach Almighty Allah, the All-Knowing and the All-Hearing, Who is nearer to man than his jugular vein: We verily created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. (Qaf 50: 16), is an act of worship believers carry out in every occasion and condition.
However, when believers do this, as it is revealed in the verse: But you will not will unless Allah wills… (Al-Insan 76: 30) they behave in a manner conscious of the fact that everything is always under the control of our Lord and that everything is realized by His will.
There is a Response to Sincere Prayers in Both the World and the Hereafter
Prayer leads the person towards what is going to happen in his destiny; God is the One Who determines destiny and creates prayer. However, the blessing that comes following a prayer contains prosperity in this world and a good return in the Hereafter. A person’s whole life is a result of the active or verbal prayers previously made, whether he realizes it or not.
Active prayer is our actions and efforts put forth on the subject of prayer by Allah’s leave. When this effort is not for the good pleasure of Allah –as is the case with some people- it could still be a means for an individual to reach his or her wishes, by Allah’s leave. People who do not have faith but carry out their active prayers with great ambition, for example, those who work and earn a lot, becomes rich or becomes expert about a subject and becomes famous, have reached that degree through their active struggle by holding onto causes, and again by Allah’s leave.
However, active prayers that are not made for the good pleasure of Allah will bring no benefit to the individual in the Hereafter even if a person reaches his or her objectives from time to time in this world.
No Other Than Allah is Prayed to
By the verse revealed in the Qur’an: O Prophet! Allah is enough for you, and for the faithful who follow you. (Al-Anfal 8: 64), believers know that Allah is the only One Whom to ask help. He is the most superior, the most powerful and the One Who sees and hears everything. Allah is the One Who is excluded from all deficient features, and Who is the Owner of eternal power. All power in the universe is in His hands. So help and forgiveness should be asked for only and only from Allah, Whom everyone is need for and Who Himself does not need anyone. In the Qur’an it is revealed that it is wrong to pray to others than Allah and that Allah is the sole authority of prayer:
So do not call on any other god along with Allah or you will be among those who will be punished. (Ash-Shu‘ara’ 26: 213)
Prayer is an example of Allah’s mercy and compassion for His servants. Believers can pray to Allah at every moment and under every condition and they are peaceful that God will accept these prayers in the best ways.
In this way, they can tell their deepest secrets and the most hidden desires to Allah, and live the goodness, prosperity and beauty that comes from the knowledge that God is the only friend, guide and helper. We can see the biggest secret in Allah accepting prayers in the lives of prophets as we have mentioned in some examples. There is a relation in praying and carrying out the actions Allah commands. The physical effort shown for Allah’s good pleasure, mercy and Paradise is an act of worship as important as prayer.
Allah revealed in the Qur’an about the importance of effort:
But as for anyone who desires the Hereafter, and strives for it with the striving it deserves, being a believer, the striving of such people will be gratefully acknowledged. (Al-Israa’: 19)
Islamic scholar Imam Rabbani explained this matter with these words:
“Desiring something means attaining it; indeed, Almighty Allah does not make His servant pray for something He will not accept.”
Believers who know that their actions are also prayers not only pray at moments of difficulty but at every moment by feeling the existence and mightiness of Allah. They preserve this close connection to Almighty Allah at every moment of their lives.