What Prayer Means to Me
By Velma Cook
Five times a day I retreat from life, pause and renew my intention for living. It’s not just kids and work, fun and problems. There’s more, much more lying just beneath the surface of our everyday thoughts. If we dare to peer within, we’ll find it, the home of peace, of truth: an acute awareness of what is wrong and right, of what is worthwhile and what is wasted.
I stand still and concentrate on the spot on the carpet where my forehead will soon rest, casting aside all worries, fears and hopes, and focusing on the only One Who can help, Who can forgive, Who is Well-Aware of everything. Quietly, so only myself can hear, I recite the verses of Qu’ran that remind us, in every prayer, of the One Who showers Mercy on those who deserve it and those who don’t. The One with Whom all Judgment lies and Whom we are all to return to, at an appointed time. I remember that no one can help me, no one can allay my fears, no one can turn the tide of events, except the One from Whom all help is sought.
When anger strikes my heart, I recite the verses that remind us of mercy, tolerance and forgiveness; raising the consciousness to see through the empty words that people speak, to the meaning that may have been intended. So I forgive.
When worries cloud my mind and I’m busy planning what I should do, I recite those verses telling of good deeds and trust in the Lord of all. The best of planners, the Subduer of evil and the Exalter of Whom He pleases. So, I try my best, ask for help and leave the rest to Allah.
When I feel sad and lost, I recite the verses promising victory to those who strive to uphold piety, that place of rest and peace that lies not so far ahead and the Source of all Peace Whose help is always near. So, I wipe away my tears and keep on trying, never giving up.
My prayer is a way of life. It comes five times a day but the rest of the time is in preparation for the next, awareness of the passing time, remembering my duty to my Creator and my responsibility to my own soul. So whatever I’m doing, I stop and put it aside, wash and stand in prayer, trying to look within, at the faults that follow me around in my life, of the evil my hands have sent forth, and seek guidance, forgiveness and escape from the evil consequences of what I may have done.
I think of the marvels of the universe, how infinitely beautiful and amazing as they are. The wonders of my own self, the physical human body and the wonders it contains. The depth and breadth of the mind, that few of us can compass and then I look to the trivial pleasures of life, the transient nature of our existence and I feel an urge to do more, to try harder, to be better than I was the day before.
And so I bow before my Creator, acknowledging the fact that only He deserves my sincerity, my obedience and my love. All else in life, is secondary to the fact that if He hadn’t chosen to create me, I would never have existed. Here I am! Here’s my duty. Worship is not only prayer and fasting but the way we live, the way we speak, the way we treat people and the way we solve problems. Knowing that we weren’t only created and left to discern truth for ourselves, I adhere to the guidance given to me to steady me on the path that leads to success in this life and the next.
I continue in my prayer, whether well or ill, tired or wakeful, sad or hopeful, I continue, knowing that success doesn’t lie in the amount of money, weapons or strength one thinks one has, but in one’s morality.