My Prayer Problem

I’ve always valued prayer, but rarely practiced it as a Christian. Oh, I would pray “on the fly,” little snippets here and there. I talked a lot to God in my head, but I didn’t listen very often. For a while, I kept a prayer journal—I found it easier to write my prayers than to say them. But that was partly a cop-out. I just didn’t want to commit myself to regular, on-my-knees prayer.

It surprised me that one thing I found attractive about Islam was its emphasis on prayer. I think I wanted to be more devoted to prayer, but I didn’t have the structure I needed to keep me on the right path. Islam has given me that structure. Because Allah knew that humans have trouble committing themselves to prayer  He set up a schedule and a specific pattern for us to follow.

But old habits die hard, if you can call not praying very often a habit. I’ve been a Muslim for over a year now, and I’m still having trouble getting in all my prayers every day. I was better at first because I was afraid to miss any. I was afraid to fail as a Muslim. I didn’t see that I was, and always will be, a Muslim in the making. Allah knows my weaknesses, my failures and my sins better than I do. He also knows my intentions. I pray that He will be merciful to me and forgive me for the acts I omit as well as the acts I commit.

I love Muslim prayer. I love the words and the movements. I love that Allah saw fit to give us detailed instructions. I love feeling more aware of Him and of others when I pray. And I especially love the peace that comes over me when know I’m doing His will.

So why don’t I do it more often?

I don’t pray as often:

  • when I look at prayer as an obligation instead of an opportunity.
  • when I focus too much on how I pray rather than on what I pray.
  • when I forget how much I need to be forgiven.
  • when I forget how much it blesses others (when I make du’a for them).
  • because I’m human.

Prayer is an opportunity for us to rise above our human nature through submission to Allah. He reminds us in prayer that we need Him; He doesn’t need us. But even though He requires us to pray, it is a gift, not a burden. It is both His gift to us and our gift to others.

I have a tendency to think that devotion to Allah just comes upon us. I forget that it comes through discipline. The Pillar of prayer gives us the opportunity to become more disciplined by practicing it.

This public confession is my way of admitting my failure and also of asking for help, from Allah and from others, through the prayers they pray on my behalf. We cannot rectify a problem if we don’t admit that a problem exists.

Published by

Ellen

Editor and chief writer at I, Muslimah and Femagination. Ellen also contributes regularly to Elevate Difference. She is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with two cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

4 thoughts on “My Prayer Problem”

  1. Yes, it’s one of Allah’s Mercies that He has made prayer obligatory and stressed its importance so much, because otherwise we wouldn’t find time to fit prayer into our “busy” schedules.

    I don’t think focusing on ‘how’ we pray is a turn-off: it’s lovely that Islam is so encompassing- it includes very tiny details that we must follow because we, in our limited capacities and perceptions, may not see the wisdom behind the movements, state of purity, direction, number of rak’ahs, etc, but I am positive that every minor detail has a reason and purpose and a heap of benefits that come along with it.

    I love the way my mother brought me up to think of prayer. She always told me that God Has made an appointment with me five times a day. If you love somebody, wouldn’t you want to be on time to your meetings with them, be in a presentable form and not do anything that will displease them before meeting them? She even taught me to put on perfume before going to pray- because I want to be in my best form when I’m standing to talk to my Creator. It’s a great analogy- I’m planning to use them on my kids if I ever have any one day!

    1. Thank you for your comments. I certainly agree that Allah has a purpose for everything He requires us to do and I will try to remind myself of that more often.

      I also like what your mother used to tell you. She is a wise woman!

  2. It is by God’s Grace that I stumble on your blog. It emanates a warm and radiant peace. Goose bumps run through my skin, and tears fill my eyes as I read your words. They are clear, simple, and above all human. I am a Muslim too, that rediscovered his faith, all the while journeying through the faiths and philosophies of others. I want to write more, but I’ll stop here and simply say a prayer:

    May God soften our hearts where they are hard, Strengthen them where they are weak
    May God help us in remembering His countless blessings, His ever present nearness, His infinite Mercy,
    May God remove the veils which keep us enchained to ignorance, and open our eyes to His Truth. Ameen

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging remarks. I have only been a Muslim for 18 months and still have so much to learn, but sisters and brothers like you have been so helpful and welcoming. I’m glad you found something good here.

      Salaam,
      Ellen

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