Prayer: Divine Dialogue
This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” [Jeremiah 33:3].
To be in prayerful communion with God is truly a remarkable condition. It means that, through prayer, we have deciphered the code that hid sacred thoughts from our conscious life.
In this world, man finds remembrance of Allaah, praising Him and worshipping him, a delight that is incomparable to anything else. [Ibn Taymiyyah, Minhaj as-Sunnah, 5/389].
Prayer Is Connecting
Prayer can translate the signs of creation and the metaphors of the Ideal. Through prayer, we come to understand the secrets of Divine consciousness.
Prayer can connect the mind and body to the Divine Reality, reminding us that bodily pleasures and intellectual acumen do not offer ultimate self-realization.
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. [Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life].
We pursue the sacred because a longing within us seeks to connect with and experience the Divine Presence. It is this impulse to unite with our Creator, prompted by despair and hope, that ultimately produces change and correct our lives.
Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all other need: prayer is the beginning of that communion, and some need is the motive of that prayer . . . So begins a communion, a talking with God, a coming-to-one with Him, which is the sole end of prayer, yea, of existence itself in its infinite phases. [George Macdonald, The Word of Jesus on Prayer].
Knowingly or in unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, we are all in a constant dialogue with God. The reality we perceive in our mind is simply a reflection of this dialogue.
Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are indeed messages for all who are endowed with insight, [and] who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “O our Lord! Thou hast not created [aught of] this without meaning and purpose. Limitless art Thou in Thy glory!” [Qur’an 3:190-1]
Prayer Is a Divine Privilege
Communion with God often describes a prophetic or messianic state. However, this Divine privilege is a gift that the Almighty Creator also bestows upon the sincere and righteous worshiper who seeks Him with patience and perseverance.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Among the tribe of Israel who went before you there indeed were such people who held communion with God, even though they were not his Prophets. If ever there arose a person from among my people who would hold communion with God, it would be none else but ‘Umar. [Bukhari, Kitab ul-Manaqib].
Humanity lives in constant dependence on its Creator. This dependence produces a perpetual communication that extends beyond physical reality. It is the source of prayer.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. [Isaiah 65:24].
We may choose to deny or ignore this Divine Reality, but it is there nevertheless, nurturing, guiding and always encompassing our thoughts.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” [Jeremiah 9:22-24]
Inner Peace from Prayer
With God resonating in our hearts, we enjoy the comfort and tranquility that elude our physical existence. However, our failure to remember God causes anxiety and sorrow. Our turning away from prayer is the primary source of our misery.
We are not attentive to the Divine. We don’t hear, listen or obey. We turn our backs to the sacred. Our minds are distracted, our hearts hardened. We hear only the clamor of material existence.
O, how rare it is that the soul is sufficiently stilled to let God speak! [Francois Fenelon, Christian Perfection, p. 83].
God is constantly broadcasting, but our hearts break the connection, turn to the wrong frequency. The broadcasting to our soul never stops. It is the pulse within every individual and the rhythm of the entire universe.
Wisdom is a holy communion. It is on this condition that it ceases to be a sterile love of science and becomes the one and sovereign mode of human rallying, and that philosophy herself is promoted to religion. [Victor Hugo]
While inner peace in the physical world requires our stillness, our spiritual life knows no silence. Our thanking and praising God punctuate our joyous moments. In grief, our cries for mercy and forgiveness are our refuge, and our only source of tranquility.
There is neither strength nor power save in God Almighty. It is God we implore—and whose answer we await — to watch over you in this world and the next, to shower you with His graces, outwardly and inwardly, and to make you among those who, when blessed, give thanks; when tried, persevere; and when sinful, seek forgiveness. [Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Al-Wabil al-Sayyib, The Invocation of God].
God is always with us. It is we who are not always with Him, not remembering Him, not obeying, not thanking, not praising Him.
And your Lord hath said: “Call unto Me, [and] I shall respond to you!” [Qur’an 40:60].
We address God out of need. Our prayers are always asking for something. We ask, then wait for a response.
It is not often that we are the respondent, answering with obedience and gratitude. Rarely do we praise, thank, glorify and adore. We are not very good at that.
Real prayer is communion with God, so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts, and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him. [A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God].
We don’t speak “Sacred.” We don’t know the language of reverence. Our spiritual vocabulary is limited.
Moreover, we are too embarrassed to use the limited devotional language we know. Once we go beyond a few memorized phrases, our expressions of adoration sound awkward.
We need full immersion in a devout environment that gives expression to our piety, where sacred discourse constantly affirms the Divine Reality. We need devotional exercises to become spiritually fluent, to develop a strong reverential voice.
AND IF My servants ask thee about Me – behold, I am near; I respond to the call of him who calls, whenever he calls unto Me: let them, then, respond unto Me, and believe in Me, so that they might follow the right way. [Qur’an 2:186].