How many times have you asked GOD for something?
Did GOD answer your prayer every time?
Did GOD answer your prayers at all!
"When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided." (2:186)
How can this be! If GOD is telling us in His holy book that He answers prayers...Then WHY is He ignoring mine!!!
This is really the dilemma that most of us go through on a regular basis, and which eventually works at eroding our faith, belief, and contact with GOD.
If GOD is hearing us, why doesn't He answer?
Is it because I am bad?
Or is it because I am not praying the way He wants, or fasting the way He told us, or doing all the commands that He has sent?
We tear ourselves apart trying to work out where the 'mistakes' are and why we are being ignored...
But, is GOD really ignoring us?. Can the words of the Lord be 'untruthful'?
"GOD's promise- and GOD never breaks His promise- but most people do not know." (30:6)
Let us tackle this issue using GOD's own words for guidance:
"This Quran guides to the best path, and brings good news to the believers who lead a righteous life, that they have deserved a great recompense." (17:9)
1. Can we ask GOD for 'worldly' items?
This is really the key question. Many people have been able to convince themselves that GOD hears all prayers, but that the rewards are all attained in the next life...not this Earthly one.
Let us see if that is true:
"He said, "My Lord, forgive me, and grant me a KINGSHIP never attained by anyone else. You are the Grantor. We committed the wind at his disposal, pouring rain wherever he wanted." (38:35-36)
It appears that Solomon request for a pure 'Earthly' Kingship was answered!
"...Whenever Zachariah entered her sanctuary he found provisions with her. He would ask, "Mary, where did you get this from?" She would say, "It is from GOD. GOD provides for whomever He chooses, without limits." (3:37)
Here we find GOD providing 'Earthly' sustenance for Mary.
"That is when Zachariah implored his Lord: "My Lord, grant me such a good child; You are the Hearer of the prayers. The angels called him when he was praying in the sanctuary: "GOD gives you good news of John; a believer in the word of GOD, honorable, moral, and a righteous prophet." (3:38-39)
And Zachariah asking for an "Earthly" son.
Now that we have seen that asking for worldly items is a 'Reality'...Let us see what else we can ask for.
2. Can we ask GOD for things in the Hereafter?
"And GOD cites as an example of those who believed the wife of Pharaoh. She said, "My Lord, build a home for me at You in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his works; save me from the transgressing people." (66:11)
Pharaoh's wife seeks a 'Heavenly' reward from GOD.
"My Lord, forgive me and my parents, and anyone who enters my home as a believer, and all the believing men and women..." (71:28)
Noah seeks 'forgiveness' from the Lord (a heavenly reward).
"Anyone who commits evil, or wrongs his soul, then implores GOD for forgiveness, will find GOD Forgiving, Most Merciful." (4:110)
GOD's 'forgiveness' is (of course) Heavenly.
Thus, we can ask for things in this life as well as the after-life.
Now, if the Quran establishes both of the above facts, then WHY is it our prayers go unanswered?
The Quran tells us that GOD answers the calls that implore Him with 'conditions':
Condition # 1: GOD Alone is Implored.
"If you are afflicted in the middle of the sea, you forget your idols, EXCEPT HIM. But as soon as He saves you to the shore, you revert. Indeed, the human being is unappreciative." (17:67)
"When they ride on a ship, they implore GOD, devoting their prayers to ONLY HIM. But as soon as He saves them to the shore, they revert to idolatry." (29:65)
"When violent waves surround them, they implore GOD, sincerely devoting their prayers to ONLY HIM. But as soon as He saves them to the shore, some of them revert. None discards our revelations except those who are betrayers, unappreciative." (31:32)
"Who is the One who rescues those who become DESPERATE and call upon Him, relieves adversity, and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is it another god with GOD? Rarely do you take heed." (27:62)
This condition is of a 'general' nature for those people who from time to time, especially when in great distress, implore on Him Alone from the heart...
Many people who believe in 'Special Abilities' for Jesus, Mohammed, the Saints, the Scholars, etc... will go-through life without having GOD answer their prayers or needs (GOD will however show every human being the way- Let him who wills believe, and he who wills reject).
However, in EXTREME cases, these very same people will unknowingly and unwittingly implore on 'GOD Alone' from the heart to save or help them...Yet, as soon as their crisis is over, they go back to having idols in their hearts and forget that it was Him 'Alone' that saved them (29:65).
Condition # 1: makes it clear why most of us go-through life without having GOD answer our calls and prayers...We all have many 'idols' in our lives (money, children, ego, power, prophets, saints, wise-men, etc..) which DISQUALIFIES us from having GOD answer our prayer.
Even the Prophets were not answered when they let something 'other' than GOD Alone get in the way:
"And Zan-Noon (Jonah), abandoned his mission in protest, thinking that we could not control him. He ended up imploring from the darkness: 'There is no god other than YOU. Be You glorified. I have committed a gross sin. We responded to him, and saved him from the crisis; we thus save the believers." (21:87-88)
Condition # 2: GOD Alone is Followed.
The real secret for knowing how to have your prayers ALWAYS answered (not just in times of distress) is to 'Live the Life' that is the path of 'GOD Alone':
"Those who proclaim: "1. Our Lord is GOD," then * 2. lead a righteous life (Istaqamu), the angels descend upon them: 'You shall have no fear, nor shall you grieve. Rejoice in the good news that Paradise has been reserved for you. We are your allies in THIS LIFE, and in the Hereafter. You will have IN IT anything you desire for; you will have anything you ask." (41:30-31)
* The 'Straigh-Path' (Siraat Mustaqeem) can be found in the following verses: 6:151-153.
You see, many people say and believe that the 'Lord is GOD'...Yet their prayers go unanswered.
Many people 'lead a righteous life'...Yet their prayers go unanswered.
It is only when these 2 elements are put TOGETHER that the 'Special Formula' for having your prayers answered can come to work!
The Angels become 'assigned' to these people as their 'Allies' and they carry the responsibility (from GOD) of meeting the needs and desires of these people (in this worldly life).
These TWO conditions are further enforced in the next verses:
"Who can utter better words than one who: 1. invites to GOD, 2. works righteousness, and says: 'I am one of the Submitters?" (41:33)
Thus, a Submitter is defined by these two terms (believes in GOD, works righteousness).
Condition # 2 : To have your prayers ALWAYS answered, you should be a Submitter (Believe in GOD & Lead a Righteous Life).
Being a Submitter, is also the surest way to enter Paradise:
"Surely, those who say: 1. Our Lord is GOD, then 2. lead a righteous life (Istaqamu), will have no fear, nor will they grieve. They have deserved Paradise, where they abide forever; a reward for their works." (46:13-14)
Condition # 3: What you ask is what you Get.
When speaking to GOD, we will ask for many things, and we will think of what to say and whether we want this or that thing...GOD does NOT respond to your 'words', but He will respond to what is asked from the 'Heart'.
Sometimes, a person may express a particular need or wish in his prayer directly, while thinking something to himself that expresses a different desire. GOD responds to the innermost desire.
Remember what the Angels have been committed to in Condition # 2?
"We are your allies in this life, and in the Hereafter. You will have in it anything you desire (tashtahoon); you will have anything you ask." (41:30-31)
The verse makes clear that what you 'Desire' will take PRECEDENCE over what you 'Ask for'.
So, if you are asking for a 'New House', but really desire a 'Child'...Then do not get upset if you are granted the 'Child' and not the 'House'.
Condition # 4: Only what is Good for you is given!.
While you may have truly asked for certain things (like change of job), GOD may not respond to your prayer since in it will be more harm than good.
GOD (in His ultimate Mercy for mankind) will only give you what is better (not worse).
"Fighting may be imposed on you, even though you dislike it. But you may dislike something which is good for you, and you may like something which is bad for you. GOD knows while you do not know." (2:216)
If a child asks a parent for a 'snake', then the parent out of 'Love' for his/her child can never meet such a request...The Lord is more Merciful and Loving than any human being can EVER be, thus only the good things will be given (even-though we may not see that).
"Proclaim: 'If you possessed my Lord's treasures of mercy, you would have withheld them, fearing that you might exhaust them. The human being is indeed stingy." (17:100)
Condition # 5: Patience in Observed.
Now that we understand how to have our prayers answered, we must also understand that GOD responds 'As' and 'When' He sees fit:
"He is not questioned about anything He does, while all others are questioned." (21:23)
The Lord is our creator, GOD, and Master...He would never do anything to 'Harm' us or inflict 'Pain' or 'Suffering' to His servants...Thus, we must allow GOD to answer our calls in the 'Best Manor' that He deems rather than in our own 'Selfish' manor, which may cause more harm than good.
"Moses said to his people, "Seek GOD's help, and be patient. The earth belongs to GOD, and He grants it to whomever He chooses from among His servants. The ultimate victory belongs to the righteous." (7:128)
"But if We give him a taste of (Our) favors after adversity hath touched him, he is sure to say, "All evil has departed from me:" Behold! he falls into exultation and pride. Not so do those who show patience and constancy, and work righteousness; for them is forgiveness (of sins) and a great reward." (11:10-11)
"I have rewarded them this Day for their patience and constancy: they are indeed the ones that have achieved Bliss..." (23:111)
"We did not send any messengers before you who did not eat food and walk in the markets. We thus test you by each other; will you steadfastly persevere? Your Lord is Seer." (25:20)
A Submitter doesn't keep asking "why wasn't this or that prayer answered?" or "why do these bad things happen to me, while I'm a good person?", etc., but rather looks to see how GOD is always responding to and giving him and how He never fails to answer prayers on terms far better than what we like to impose.
Condition # 6: GOD Alone is Remembered.
Once we ask GOD Alone for help or for 'something', we must NOT turn our backs to Him and expect that He will still be there to help us.
"He (Joseph) then said to the one to be saved: 'Remember me at your lord.' Thus, the devil caused him to forget his Lord, and, consequently, he remained in prison a few more years." (12:42)
In the story of Joseph, we see how a 'righteous' man, a Messenger, was left to spend years in-prison because he did not 'Remember' to implore GOD Alone!.
Always keep GOD is your heart and in your mind...Without Him, we are all absolutely NOTHING.
Although the above tells us how to have our prayers answered, we should heed the advice of GOD who tells us:
"...Some people would say: 'Our Lord, give us of this world,' while having no share in the Hereafter." (2:200)
Do not be fooled by this world alone...For it is but an illusion.
"The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?!" (6:32)
"Anyone who seeks the materials of this world should know that GOD possesses both the materials of this world and the Hereafter. GOD is Hearer, Seer." (4:134)
What your prayers should encompass is:
"Others would say: 'Our Lord, grant us good things in this world, and good in the Hereafter, and spare us the retribution of Hell. These will receive the share they have earned. GOD is most efficient in reckoning." (2:201-202)
There is no crime in being greedy for both this world AND the next, as long as the one being asked is GOD Alone!
Now that we have shown how GOD's system is at work, you should ask yourself: 'Are ALL my prayers being answered?'
If the answer is 'No'...then you need to examine 2 elements in your life:
Do you believe in GOD Alone (no power or place for anything or anyone else)?
Do you lead a 'Righteous' life? (as drawn-out by the 'Straight Path' 6:151-153).
Written for www.free-minds.org