Why do people pray? Prayer is the act of communicating with God. There is no secret formula for prayer. There are no special words or special language. There is also no prescribed place or time for prayer. God gave human beings the gifts of intellect, emotion and language. These gifts enable us to communicate to the world around us. These same gifts also allow us to communicate with God.
How Do You Communicate?
When people talk with one another, they convey both their thoughts and feelings. Two friends sitting down for a chat do not simply recite memorized words to one another. That would be foolish and meaningless. Communication between people is only meaningful when people’s hearts and thoughts are expressed to one another.
Prayer is a Gift from God
God blessed us with the ability to communicate. Why would God want us to be able to express ourselves to one another, but not to Him our Creator? In Islam, prayer is the recitation of memorized words in Arabic five times a day. And prayer must be in a particular pose and in a particular direction. Why would God want this? Would not the living God want you to communicate in meaningful truth? And by meaningful truth I mean the true condition of our being.
God Wants Us to Talk with Him
God wants us to tell Him what is on our hearts and minds. That is why Christians pray in their own language. If a person cannot speak a particular language (such as Arabic) fluently, they cannot communicate what is truly in their hearts and minds in that language. They want to talk with God about deep thoughts and feelings. They believe God is all knowing and all understanding. God will hear them if they pray in spirit and in truth.
Christian Prayer Takes Many Forms
In Christianity, prayer takes many forms. There are prayers of joy and thanksgiving. There are prayers for help and courage. There are prayers for the sick and suffering. There are also prayers for forgiveness of sin and for the salvation of lost souls. Christian prayers are from the true condition of our being.
Prayer is supposed to be the expression of our thoughts and feelings to our loving Creator. A Christian may weep in prayer from a sorrowful heart, or shout with joy to the God of his salvation. A Christian may fall to the ground, or stand with arms raised to the heavens in prayer. They may pray aloud or in the quietness of their hearts. There are no rules or prescribed methods. There are no mandatory memorized words. There is simply a human being communicating with the God of his creation.
Prayer about Truth and Not Ceremony
Prayer is not intended to produce a feeling of holiness or righteousness. It is not about ceremony, ritual or location. Prayer is about speaking the truth in faith. Isa Al-Masih told His disciples that prayer is a personal experience with God. He said, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Injil, Matthew 6:6).
God hears our prayers. There are no special words we need to recite. Prayer is merely talking with God in truth and reverence. It is about you recognizing Him as the giver of life and all things therein.
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1. What is prayer?
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Aneesh Nazar says
Actually, you’ve got something wrong. Muslims can, in fact, make du’a to Allah any time we want. The five daily salat aren’t the only way that we pray to God.
Also, your point about memorizing Arabic passages? I’m not a fluent Arabic speaker, but when I learned the Qur’an, I learned it with several English translations. I don’t know exactly what each word means, but I can speak it with my heart. And like you said, isn’t that what prayer is about?
Muslims pray five times a day as kind of a starting point, a form of discipline that our creator asks of us, but we most certainly aren’t restricted to only that. I make du’a before I go to bed, like Christians do.
Thank you for your comment. I understand that you used English translations of the Qur’an to learn Arabic passages, and you say you can still do it with your heart, but is it the same as in your heart language?
I speak some Indonesian, and have prayed and sung songs of praise to Allah in Indonesian. Yes, it is from my heart, but it isn’t the same as when I do it in English. There are certain things that I can’t express in Indonesian the way that I can express them in English, because English is the language of my heart.
Prayer is a gift from God. But in Islam it is not. Because a gift is something which any one can play with.
“In Islam, prayer is the recitation of memorized words in Arabic five times a day,” again you’ve misunderstood it because when a Muslim offers salah (prayer) it is not a recitation of memorized Arabic words, yet it is a way to talk with the Almighty Allah. In Salah (prayer) Muslims ask for help from their Lord. And it has to be in a particular direction because other wise it is just a gift.
I must kindly disagree with your definition of “gift.” A gift is something that someone gives you, and is not just something anyone can play with.
Prayer is a gift from God because it is the way we can communicate with Him! God is perfect, holy, and righteous and I am imperfect, unholy, and sinful, yet God wants to communicate with me! That is a gift!
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“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Injil, Matthew 6:6).
This is an excellent verse from Jesus in the Injil. Pay particular attention to “Pray to your Father.” Did Jesus mentioned “pray to me” or “pray to us” or “pray through me”? Jesus is very clear about this matter, whether you take it literally or as metaphorically.
Who is the Father? He is none other than Allah, the Almighty.
Yes, Jesus does tell us to pray to the Father. But there are other verses in the Injil that tell us more about prayer. And they tell us that we can only pray to Allah through Jesus and because of what Jesus has done for us.
The Book of Hebrews states that Jesus is “a merciful and faithful high priest” (2:17). The Taurat teaches that the high priest went before God for the people. He interceded for them. In the same way, Jesus is our priest, interceding for us.
Muslims pray exactly how the prophets (peace be upon all of them) prayed. See in Genesis how Abraham (PBUH) fell on his face before his Lord. Moses (PBUH) and Aaron (PBUH) did the same thing, as well as Jesus (PBUH) in the garden of Gethsemane. So, read your Scripture then try to justify the teachings of “your church.”
Christians also sometimes pray falling on their faces before God. There is nothing wrong with praying that way. But there is also nothing wrong with praying while standing up, sitting down, or even laying in bed!
The position of the body while praying is not what matters, but what is in the heart. In Luke 18:9-14, Isa Al-Masih tells the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector praying. The Pharisee prayed the way that was prescribed in that day, but the tax collector was ashamed and stood of to the side quietly praying. Because the tax collector was humble before God, his prayer was accepted, but the Pharisee was prideful about what he had done for God, and his prayer was not accepted.