A Time to Pray and A Time to Act
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Do Prayers Work?
Do prayers work?
Do they work for everyone?
And should we pray?
The answer to all three questions is a resounding yes.
Yes, prayers absolutely, positively work. And yes, we must absolutely, positively pray.
Was it Tennyson who said: Many things are wrought by prayer? Well, the man had the right instinct.
But how, how do prayers work? That is the real question.
And for whom do they work best and most?
And like everything else good in life, how do we optimize them? How do we get the most out of our prayers?
And that is where the rub is.
That means are there things that we must do that will enhance the power and effectiveness of our prayers?
And are there things that will detract from our prayers and reduce and dilute their effectiveness and power that we must avoid?
What are some of the things that are "contraindicated" when we are embarking on a prayer path?
In other words, are prayers really effective? Do they work? Do they work for everybody?
What form does their effect take? How do we know? And how long does it take?
And, of course, what does it take for prayers to work?
To answer these questions, let me ask a different set of questions - and see if these other questions help us to understand the prayer questions a little better.
Do Medicines Work?
Do medicines work?
And should we go to a doctor? And should we take those medicines that the doctor wants us to take?
Well, what do you think the answer is to any of these questions? Also a resounding yes, most people would say.
But there are all kinds of little "buts" along the way, are there not? And here are some of them:
"But" it depends on the kind of medicine.
"But" it depends on the kind of illness.
"But" it depends on the condition of the patient.
"But" it depends on the kind of doctor.
"But" it depends on whether or not the medicine is available in the market.
"But" it depends on whether or not the patient can afford the medicine.
"But" it depends on whether or not the hospital and medical system function properly.
"But" it depends on how far the pharmacy is.
"But" it depends on how heavy the traffic is.
"But" it depends if there is anyone around to run off to the pharmacy and bring the medicine to the patient.
"But" it depends on whether or not the patient will take the medicine.
"But" it depends on whether or not the patient will take the medicine in the right dosage and as prescribed by the doctor.
"But" it depends on whether or not the patient will vomit the medicine out immediately after taking it.
"But" it depends on whether the patient will do or take something seriously contraindicated in his or her condition.
"But" it depends if the patient will follow through on all the other recommendations that the doctor made - to do certain things and to stay away from certain other things.
Prayers Work, But it Depends!
So also, prayers work. But it depends.
It depends on who you are and who your God is.
And it depends on what your prayer is and how and why you are making it.
And it depends on what you have been up to before and after making the prayers.
And it depends on whether you are also at the same time doing everything else that you must do in order to bring about the kind of positive changes that you want your prayers to bring about in your own life and in your surroundings.
Here is a broad paraphrase and extrapolation of some of the things Prophet Muhammad (May God bless him and all the prophets), the ultimate doctor that God sent to cure humanity's ills, indicated we must do if we cared to have our prayers accepted:
What it Takes for Prayers to Work
1. We must have a firm and unshakable belief - Iman - in a higher being - God Almighty.
2. And our belief - our Iman that is - must be of the right kind. That means our God must be the right God.
3. Yes, there is no getting away from that fact. There are all kinds of fancy gods and then there is God Almighty - the one and only God, God of all beings and things. And God of all prophets and peoples.
4. He is the one and only God that Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (May God bless them all) preached about and invited humanity to worship - God of the Old Testament, God of the New Testament and God of the Qur'an.
5. There is no God but him. And we must take no God besides him, as the Bible says in such clear and strong terms.
6. Then we must have the strong faith - Iman - and confidence - Yaqeen - that our prayers will be accepted.
7. Then we must be in a state of total and utter sincerity - Ikhlas - as we embark upon our prayers.
8. Then we must take a careful look at our actions. We must carefully and thoroughly review the catalog of our deeds to date - our A'amal.
9. Everything positive as well as negative that we did to date - we need to carefully and sincerely examine, analyze and understand every one of those things.
10. That means at every stage we must ask ourselves why we did what God told us not to do and why we did not do what God told us to do.