In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate & the Merciful
I once read that prayer is talking to God while meditation is listening to Him. I believe that to be true but, sadly, most of us engage in a lot of prayer (talking to Allah) while few of us engage in meditation (listening to Allah). Any communication must work both ways. One sided communication is not communication at all, really, so we need to learn not only to talk (pray) to God but to also listen (meditate) to God. Yes, I do believe God talks to the faithful.
When we do pray we need to consider a thing or two. We need to consider how we pray. No I’m not talking about which direction we face when we pray or reciting a prayer from memory or out of a book. I’m talking are real prayer! What is real prayer? It is prayer that comes from the heart.
So many times when we pray we simply mouth words but those words have no real meaning because all we are doing is mouthing the words and those words are not coming from the heart. It’s as if we are simply reciting a poem just mouthing the words with no real conviction or feeling. That isn’t real prayer because God wants us to pray from the heart and not simply mouth the words. He wants our words to have meaning and the only way our words can have meaning is when our prayer comes from the heart.
I think most will agree that the last thing we want to do is to simply pay the Creator lip service. Lip service is just words. Words that have no meaning. Words that we simply mouth but that really mean nothing to us at all. Guess what? Such words have no meaning to Allah either!
When people complain to me that they believe Allah doesn’t hear their prayers the first thing I ask them is how they pray. I’m not talking ritualistic behavior. I’m asking them where do the words they pray come from. Only out of their mouths or from their hearts? Not surprisingly most of those who feel God doesn’t hear their prayers end up realizing that their prayers do not come from their hearts but that most of the time they only mouth the words. And there’s the problem!
Allah does not want us to simply pay Him lip service. He doesn’t want us to simply mouth words, empty words. Allah wants us to pray from our hearts because only those prayers that come from our hearts have any real meaning to Him or, frankly, to us. If you pray and you feel God doesn’t hear your prayers perhaps you would do well to consider where your prayer words and feelings are coming from. Your mouth or your heart? I’m willing to bet that you don’t pray with conviction. I’m willing to bet you simply pay God lip service. And I’m willing to bet that when you start to pray from the heart you’ll come to realize that Allah DOES hear your prayers.
But, let’s make no mistake in this topic of prayer. Some people seem to think that God is some sort of magician who simply exists to grant our every wish and desire. Sorry but that’s NOT the way God works and God is not some sort of magician! If you think God should answer your every prayer and grant your every desire then you’re in for a big disappointment. Get the notion that God is a magician out of your head! He’s not! Much of what God does is He teaches us lessons. Important lessons. You might think that winning the lottery will solve your every woe and you might get mad at God when you pray to win the lottery and you don’t but God doesn’t see it the way you do. For instance, God may think that should you win that lottery you will become greedy and selfish. And to top it off you might even become egotistical beyond belief and turn away from Him. That is not what God wants for you. In the short term winning the lottery might solve SOME of your woes but in the long term it may make you into a kind of person that Allah doesn’t want you to be. We tend to see things in the short term. Allah, however, sees things in the long term.
When we pray (talk to God) we should always do so from our hearts and not simply pay lip service to Him. Instead of always asking for something or wanting for something we should thank Him for what He has given us even for those little things that He has given us that we, unfortunately, tend to forget or take for granted. And when we pray we should pray from our hearts with thankfulness to Him who is the Sustainer of All Things. And finally, it is very important that when we pray (talk to Allah) we take a few moments to meditate (listen to Allah) because, as I said, communication MUST be a two way street or it’s not really communication at all.
Pray from your heart. Don’t mouth words to God. Listen to what God feels is best for you because He will let you know. Our Allah is not dead nor is He distant. Our Allah is very much living and close! He hears all and knows all even the secrets within our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him! He is closer to us than our own hearts if we but knew it and, indeed, we would know this to be so IF and WHEN we pray from the heart and leave all of our lip service behind.
May the blessings of Allah be upon you. May He sustain you and guide you. May He shower you and your loved ones with health, long life, and guidance.
Imam Muhammid Abbas