What does it mean to ‘Pray to God?’
Prayer can be defined as a devout petition to God, or a spiritual communion with God, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession- or a 'service of the heart.' Prayer can be done individually, or with others. People can pray in many ways, within themselves quietly or as an outward expression through physical movements such as bowing, standing and prostration.
Why is Prayer important?
Through Prayer we create an opportunity to establish a ‘relationship’ with our Creator, The Source of Life, The Higher Being to whom the Most Beautiful Names belong as it enables us to’ perceive’ and therefore benefit from the direct connection we have with our Creator.
How can Prayer help us?
Establishing prayer enables us to ‘focus’ ‘remember’ ‘reflect’ and ‘meditate’ on His Beautiful Attributes, on the world we live in, on our blessings, on our behaviour and involve Him in our reflections and lives through our experiences. Through prayer we can praise and glorify our Creator. It provides an opportunity to ‘repent’ for our sins through asking for His forgiveness and mercy. Through prayer we can thank God for our blessings, and for the blessings of those we love. We can ask for help and guidance during times of hardship for others, as well as for ourselves. Through prayer we can seek guidance, wisdom, enlightenment, faith, and knowledge. When we are ‘mindful’ in the way that we pray, we learn about ourselves and what is important to us.
There are some of us who pray only to our Creator during times of hardship and distress, while neglecting His remembrance during times of ease. There are others who seem to show gratitude and glorify Him during times of ease, while refuse to believe and turn to Him due to anger and pride in times of hardship and affliction. Some of us might outwardly perform prayer rituals while we are not in fact mindful of our words, and our prayers do not come from the heart- due to being distracted by worries of the past or the future and inability to ‘focus.’ There are some who like to pray alone in secret and others would not even be aware of their prayers, while others who prefer to pray in groups with others but do not incorporate prayer into their personal lives in secret. We find that we are told by some that the physical rituals of prayer will affect the power of the prayer e.g. putting our hands in a certain position while we pray, or facing a certain direction- and these can sometimes be a distraction and a blockage from people truly praying and connecting to their Creator from the heart.
Often it’s during times of distress that we feel truly humbled and therefore more able to perceive the connection we have with our Source. It is often therefore through suffering and hardship that we tend to feel more ‘able’ to pray with truth and sincerity. However gratitude during times of hardship enables our hearts to remain humble even during times of ease, which can help us to maintain the perception of our connection.
Praying for others when it is beyond our control to help them physically during their times of hardship and distress and can help us feel that we are doing ‘something’ to help them during their hour of need by asking help from Our Creator who is Able to do all things. According to Scriptures, when we pray for others, God’s Angels pray for us.
How can Prayer help others?
Many find the natural inclination to pray for others, when we want for others what we want for ourselves, and when we truly believe the importance of treating others how we ourselves would want to be treated. Praying for others and for them to know that others are praying for them can be a huge help by giving them strength and faith during their times of distress. It can help to make them feel ‘loved’ and appreciated and ‘valued’ in this world, and therefore encourage them to continue their lives living in loving kindness. Praying for one another for forgiveness and for guidance and wisdom and strength during both times of hardship and of ease, can help unite our hearts, and help strengthen our relationships.
We must be careful not to use our prayers as a way to ‘control’ others which we see happening in some religious groups of individuals. Secret prayer for others is more powerful and pure than letting others know that we pray for them. None of us need to solely depend on the prayers of others for us, because this puts a barrier and blockage between us establishing a direct connection with our creator and is likely to lead us to neglect our own prayer. The more we encourage each other to pray for others, and the more in secret we do this, the more likely it is that we will each benefit from perceiving and embracing a pure and direct connection to our Creator and that our hearts will be united in Spirit. We should not feel the need to receive a ‘thank you’ for our prayers for others, because this can sometimes diffuse the beauty of it coming from the heart. Praying for others is likely more effective when it is an act of ‘sacrifice’ and therefore ‘giving without any expectation of return’ except from God.
How should we pray?
Every one of us can have a direct personal relationship with God- and in order to get most benefit from it here are some things we can try to work on:
-Seeking refuge in God from evil temptations from 'Satan'
-Praying from the heart with sincerity
-Praying for others before or instead of praying for ourselves
-Praying in Full Submission to His Will (Accepting that He works in Mysterious ways and that our prayers are not always answered in the way we might expect or want them to be)
-Seeking Guidance through Wisdom and Knowledge
-Rememberence and Reflection of His Beautiful Attributes
-Offering deeds of 'sacrifice' along with our prayers ( see section on 'Sacrifice')
(Above Writings are based on the reflections of Dr Lale Tuncer)
Some prayers from Scripture:
‘In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise is due to God, the Lord of the Worlds. The Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. You Alone we worship, and you Alone we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path. The path of those You have blessed; not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray. Amen’ Quran chapter 1
‘...”I seek refuge in the Lord of daybreak. From the evil of that which He created. And from the evil of darkness when it settles. And from the evil of the blowers in knots. And from the evil of an envier when he envies." Qur’ān 113:1-5
‘...”"I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind. The Sovereign of mankind. The God of mankind. From the evil of the retreating whisperer -Who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind -From among the jinn and mankind."’ Quran 114:1-6
‘...”He is God (who is) One. God, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent." Quran 112
'Our Father, who art in heaven: Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.' Mathew 6:9-13
'In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord,[c] is in you. Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!' Psalm 25
...’”Lord, give us good things both in this life as well as in the life hereafter and save us from the torment of fire".’ Quran 2:201
‘Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance and make our foothold sure and give us help against those who reject faith.’ Quran 2:250
‘Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget or fall into error.’Quran 2:286
‘Our Lord! Lay not upon us such a burden as You did lay upon those before us.’ Quran 2:286
‘Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear, grant us forgiveness and have mercy on us. You are our Protector. Help us against those who deny the truth.’ Quran 2:286
‘Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate from the truth after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your grace. Verily You are the Giver of bounties without measure.’ Quran 3:8
‘Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and the lack of moderation in our doings, and make firm our steps and succour us against those who deny the truth.’ Quran 3:147
‘Our Lord! Whomsoever You shall commit to the Fire, truly You have brought [him] to disgrace, and never will wrongdoers find any helpers.’ Quran 3:192
‘Our Lord! Behold we have heard a voice calling us unto faith: "Believe in your Lord" and we have believed.’ Quran 3:193
‘Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and efface our bad deeds and take our souls in the company of the righteous.’ Quran 3:193
‘Our Lord! And grant us that which you have promised to us by Your messengers and save us from shame on the Day of Judgement. Verily You never fail to fulfill Your promise.’ Quran 3:194
‘Our Lord! We have sinned against ourselves, and unless You grant us forgiveness and bestow Your mercy upon us, we shall most certainly be lost!’ Quran 7:23
‘Our Lord! Place us not among the people who have been guilty of evildoing.’ Quran 7:47
‘Our Lord! Lay open the truth between us and our people, for You are the best of all to lay open the truth.’ Quran 7:89
‘Our Lord! Pour out on us patience and constancy, and make us die as those who have surrendered themselves unto You.’ Quran 7:126
‘Our Lord! Make us not a trial for the evildoing folk, and save as by Your mercy from people who deny the truth.’ Quran 10:85-86
‘Our Lord! You truly know all that we may hide [in our hearts] as well as all that we bring into the open, for nothing whatever, be it on earth or in heaven, remains hidden from God.’ Quran 14:38
‘Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Your presence and dispose of our affairs for us in the right way.’ Quran 18:
‘Our Lord! Grant that our spouses and our offspring be a comfort to our eyes, and give us the grace to lead those who are conscious of You.’ Quran 25:74
‘…I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the Lord God is my strength and song and He has become my salvation…’ Isaiah 12:1
‘Our Lord! Pour out on us patience and constancy, and make us die as those who have surrendered themselves unto You.’ Quran 7:126
‘Our Lord! You embrace all things within Your Grace and Knowledge, forgive those who repent and follow Your path, and ward off from them the punishment of Hell.’ Quran 40:7
‘Our Lord! Make them enter the Garden of Eden which You have promised to them, and to the righteous from among their fathers, their wives and their offspring, for verily You are alone the Almighty and the truly Wise.’ Quran 40:8
‘Our Lord! Relieve us of the torment, for we do really believe.’ Quran 44:12
‘Our Lord! Forgive us our sins as well as those of our brethren who proceeded us in faith and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against [any of] those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness and Most Merciful’ Quran 59:10
‘Our Lord! In You we have placed our trust, and to You do we turn in repentance, for unto You is the end of all journeys.’ Quran 60:4
...'My Lord, make this city secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols.' Quran 14:35
‘Our Lord! Perfect our light for us and forgive us our sins, for verily You have power over all things.’ Quran 66:8
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in Your Deliverance. There is no One Holy like the Lord; there is no One besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed. The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour. For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them He has set the world. He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed.” Samuel 2:1-10
‘… “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord God, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future. And this is the custom of man, O Lord God. Again what more can David say to You? For You know Your servant, O Lord God! For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know. For this reason You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land, before Your people whom You have redeemed for Yourself from Egypt, from nations and their gods? For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O Lord, have become their God. Now therefore, O Lord God, the Word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and his house, confirm it forever, and do as You have spoken, that Your name may be magnified forever, by saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and may the house of Your servant David be established before You. For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. Now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant. Now therefore, may it please You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. For You, O Lord God, have spoken; and with Your blessing may the house of Your servant be blessed forever.’ King Davids’s Prayer; 2 Samuel 7:18-29
‘…“I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”’ 2 Samuel 24:10
‘… “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day. Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’ Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! “Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive. If a man sins against his neighbour and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness. When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against You, if they turn to You again and confess Your name and pray and make supplication to You in this house, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name and turn from their sin when You afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and of Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land, which You have given Your people for an inheritance. If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You have given to our fathers. Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. “When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You, and make them objects of compassion before those who have taken them captive, that they may have compassion on them (for they are Your people and Your inheritance which You have brought forth from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace), that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and to the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You. For You have separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance, as You spoke through Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord God.” 1 Kings 8:22-53
‘…“I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”’ Nehemiah 1:5–11
‘…For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.’ Nehemiah 6:9–14
‘..Naked I came from my mother’s womb; and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord…’ Job 1:21-22
‘..What is man that You magnify him, and that You are concerned about him, that You examine him every morning and try him every moment? Will You never turn Your gaze away from me, Nor let me alone until I swallow my spittle? Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself? Why then do You not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust; And You will seek me, but I will not be.”…’ Job 7:17–21
‘…“Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, that You would set a limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes. You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands. For now You number my steps, You do not observe my sin. My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You wrap up my iniquity. But the falling mountain crumbles away, and the rock moves from its place; Water wears away stones, Its torrents wash away the dust of the earth; So You destroy man’s hope. You forever overpower him and he departs; You change his appearance and send him away. His sons achieve honour, but he does not know it; Or they become insignificant, but he does not perceive it. But his body pains him, and he mourns only for himself.”…’ Job 14:13–22
… “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more.” Job 40:3–5
‘…Then Job answered the Lord and said, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes…’ Job 42:1–6
‘…Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted…’ Isaiah 12:4
‘…O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. For You have made a city into a heap, a fortified city into a ruin; a palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt. Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless nations will revere You. For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat; For the breath of the ruthless is like a rain storm against a wall. Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced…’ Isaiah 25:1-5
‘…“We have a strong city; He sets up walls and ramparts for security. Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that remains faithful. The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. For He has brought low those who dwell on high, the unassailable city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He casts it to the dust. The foot will trample it, the feet of the afflicted, the steps of the helpless. The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments. The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Though the wicked is shown favour, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, and does not perceive the majesty of the Lord. O Lord, Your hand is lifted up yet they do not see it. They see Your zeal for the people and are put to shame; Indeed, fire will devour Your enemies. Lord, You will establish peace for us, since You have also performed for us all our works. O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. The dead will not live, the departed spirits will not rise; Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, and You have wiped out all remembrance of them. You have increased the nation, O Lord, You have increased the nation, You are glorified; You have extended all the borders of the land. O Lord, they sought You in distress; They could only whisper a prayer, your chastening was upon them. As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, she writhes and cries out in her labour pains, Thus were we before You, O Lord. We were pregnant, we writhed in labour, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, nor were inhabitants of the world born. Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits…’ Isaiah 26:1-20