My teacher once said, “Some people feel better after they have prayed and some pray after they feel better. Both are aiming for the same target, but the latter option will leave you feeling utterly lost.” He was absolutely right.
If you are someone who is waiting to ‘feel better first’, I humbly urge you to pray so that you start feeling better fast.
There is a variety of reasons why some people stop praying. For example, sometimes it’s difficult to balance work and other aspects of life, sometimes it’s difficult to deal with feelings of depression and disappointment especially when we have prayed for something and we think that it hasn’t been answered. So the first thing we do is lose hope and the desire to stand in the prayer.
So, to be able to deal with our problem, we need to understand our own selves and ask ourselves why exactly we’re not praying, and then the solution will be clear.
Maybe we have the wrong understanding/attitude towards prayer. We think it’s a burden, while actually, it’s a relief, we think it’s taking up our time, while actually, it’s putting Barakah in our time, we think we prayed for something and didn’t get it, while actually, it was the reason why we continued to get many more blessings in our health and our families and our well-being without even asking for that… and Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows us best.
“And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 14: Verse 34]
So what can be done to help overcome negative attitude towards prayer? Here are some tips.
Identify the problem & adjust your perception
We are driven by short-term rewards. If the prayer we make doesn’t reap fruits right away, we turn away. This is a very negative attitude. Any successful person would try and try until he/she reaches their goal, and not simply quit after few attempts. Failure to be consistent or giving up wastes great opportunities.
So, if you pray and “don’t feel it”, or you make dua in prayer and doesn’t get answered, then adjust your perception. If you attend one class and you didn’t understand, do you quit school/university entirely? Do you wait for the understanding to come to you, or do you actually put effort and ask the right people and keep trying until you succeed? The answer is clear.
And if you make dua and doesn’t get answered and this is why you project anger or lose hope in prayer… then know that Allah has already answered you and rewarded you for making dua, even if you don’t see a tangible/materialistic outcome.
Aisha raḍyAllāhu ‘anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “No believer makes Dua and it is wasted. Either it is granted here in this world or deposited for him in the Hereafter as long as he does not get frustrated.”
What is required is a shift in the way we perceive things. Internalizing the following points can help, in sha Allah:
Understand that we don’t have the eye to look far ahead into future. Since we don’t have knowledge of the unseen, we might not understand why something goes contrary to our wishes. And our wishes aren’t necessarily the best things for us.
Accept that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) is The One in charge of everything that happens in the entire universe. And imagining His power and control makes one feel confident that He can always fulfill what is best for you. You need to turn back and reconcile with Him, there is no success away from Him… so leaving the prayer isn’t a solution in any way, shape or form.
Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the best of planners. There’s a completely flawless roadmap designed just for you from the start. Our part is to trust Him and do what is required. The outcome is never in anyone’s hands but the intention is, the effort is, and of course, making dua regularly as well.
Rest assured, even if the outcome doesn’t turn out to be the one you had desired for, it will still be a source of peace and comfort because you had entrusted Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) with all your affairs.
The Most-High can bless you abundantly right away or withhold temporarily and reward you in some other form and some other time. He alone knows what’s best for you. Just trust Him and His timings.
Make sure to always make dua in prayer
Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said:
“There is nothing more honorable with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) than supplication.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
“Indeed, he who does not ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), he gets angry with him.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
So be fervent in asking Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) again and again. Making dua should be a daily routine and not a result of some momentarily pressing need.
If you feel withdrawn, ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) to enlighten your heart and enable you to navigate through negative thoughts that don’t let you kneel down and reconnect with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).
This Hadith Qudsi is so heartwarming as Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:
“… Walk to me and I will run to you…” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
There is an unimaginable number of angels in the universe doing nothing else but standing in prayer glorifying the Most-High, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is us who need Him all the time. So humble yourself and don’t let Shaytan trick you into believing that you can make it on your own. Because you can’t. You need Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) more than you need anything and anyone else in this world. So don’t cut the blessings in your life be cutting payer.
Having good companions pushes you in the right direction
When we feel lonely, what we actually want is someone trustworthy, sincere and wise to be by our side, but mostly what we do is confine ourselves behind closed doors and choose not to meet with anyone. When you alienate yourself from others, in the first place, it substantiates what your mind is already feeling. You are lonely. You need company and that’s exactly what you end up avoiding unconsciously.
By the same token, when you don’t feel like praying, it is exactly when you need to force yourself to pray. Shaytan wants you to stay disconnected from salah as long as possible and he showers whispers immensely into your chest as reasons and excuses for not praying.
It is up to you to identify your enemy and wipe clean your heart or let the confusion brew inside.
The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says:
“Adhere to the Jama’ah (the group of believers), beware of separation, for indeed Shaitan is with one, and he is further away from two. Whoever wants the best place in Paradise, then let him stick to the Jama’ah.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
Also, he ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says:
“There are no three people in a town or encampment among whom prayer is not established, but the Shaitan takes control of them. Therefore, stick to the congregation, for the wolf eats the sheep that strays off on its own.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
Your company plays a vital role in your life. Good friends invite you to do good and forbid you from that which is bad. They will highlight your shortcomings and help you let go of any bad habits keeping you from getting closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). Keeping good company creates a positive attitude towards life, letting go of the ill feelings harboring in your heart. So make an effort to join the company of those who establish salah in their lives and follow the footsteps of our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) emphasized the importance of good companionship in being steadfast in religion. He ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Man follows his friend’s religion, you should be careful who you take for friends.” [At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]
For as long as we shall live, we will be tried with calamities related to worldly life, relationships, health etc. Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 155]
If we are being tested, or there’s a delay in having our prayers answered, it is an indication that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants to cleanse our sins and/or elevate our status provided we stay patient.
We must remember that any problem or difficulty should never withhold us from prayer, rather difficulties should drive us to pray more earnestly.
“then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us].” [Qur’an: Chapter 6: verse 42]
A strong reminder
The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat (prayer). If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser. If any shortcoming is found in the obligatory Salat, the Glorious and Exalted Rubb will command to see whether His slave has offered any voluntary Salat so that the obligatory Salat may be made up by it. Then the rest of his actions will be treated in the same manner.” [At- Tirmidhi].
So, no matter what goes on in your life, pray! Perhaps many days, weeks or months will pass by and at times prayers would feel like exercise. Continue anyway. Peace and serenity will follow, if you pray mindfully, focused on the Creator. He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will respond, He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) always does…Hold on to that faith and let it resonate in your life that no one and nothing can ever deter you from gaining nearness to your and my Creator, Allah, the Most-High, The Exalted.
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