INsights 016, Friday 3rd June 2022
INsights 016, Friday 3rd June 2022
How prayer keeps you strong
Assalamu-alaikum, Peace be upon you.
True submission to God is about a lot more than devotional worship. It’s not just about putting aside certain times in the day to pray. That’s just the start... It’s about letting those moments of prayer inspire us to devote the rest of our lives fully to Him too.
This was the closing message of the previous edition of INsights, which was the first of a four-part series on living a mission-driven life. In Part 1, I had shared some reflections on the link between prayer and social action for the sake and cause of God.
Today I’m going to share how prayer keeps you strong through the ups and downs of the mission-driven life.
Remember why you started
A mission-driven life is one that involves attempting to persuade others to improve their ways. It’s far from easy! Whether someone tries to do this through direct personal engagement or by offering a product or delivering a service, it’s hard work.
Yes, there is often excitement, hope and the joy of positive outcomes. But there is also uncertainty, frustration and the pain of facing rejection.
The prophets are our ultimate exemplars and they had tough experiences to say the least. They were often dismissed and persecuted. Towards the start of the 15th chapter (al-Hijr) of the Qur’an, we read, “We sent messengers among the various communities of old, but they mocked every single messenger that came to them.” (15:10-11)
To make matters worse, the prophets were often let down by those closest to them. Imagine how Noah felt about his son, Abraham about his father and Lot about his wife.
When you face setbacks on the path of service to your Lord, it’s easy to give up and forget why you started. It’s even possible to become more disconnected from the One whom you set out to serve in the first place.
But just as prayer represents an inspiration to set out on the mission-driven path, it’s also our haven when things get difficult and a powerful reminder to keep going.
His door is always open
At the end of the 15th chapter quoted above, God reassures and advises His final messenger as follows, “We are enough for you against all those who ridicule your message, who set up another god beside God – they will come to know. We are well aware that your heart is weighed down by what they say. So celebrate the praise of your Lord and be among those who prostrate before Him: worship your Lord until what is certain comes to you.” (15:95-99)
I have always found this a very powerful passage and one that helps to get my own perspective in order.
Firstly, it’s a clear reminder that God is all I need. Whatever I’m going through, the solution lies with Him. Absolutely, and without doubt.
Second, it’s a reassurance that God knows exactly how I feel. None of my stresses or anxieties are without a witness. In fact they are witnessed by the one who is The Ultimate Witness (ash-Shahid).
Third, it’s a reminder that in challenging times, exaltation (tasbih), praise (hamd) and prostration (sujud) are paramount. By incorporating all these components, prayer is the ultimate relief. It reminds us that even if no one else responds, He does. If no one else cares, He does. If no one else helps, He will. If all other doors are closed, His remains open.
So wherever you are on your mission, if you feel the weight of the uphill challenge, know that your prayer is the place to take your troubles. If done properly, your heart will feel more at ease and your burden will feel lighter.
A time to celebrate
Of course, it’s not all trial and tribulation. On the path of serving others for the sake of God, there is also a great deal of happiness. People do respond positively, there is appreciation and praise, and there can be a real sense of traction and progress.
But when we experience success, it’s easy to take too much credit and start serving the god that is your own desire rather than God Himself. Noble intentions that exist at the start of great endeavours often get lost along the way.
So, just as in times of difficulty, prayer remains a vital part of one’s life in the good times too. It’s our time and place to celebrate the One to whom we attribute all goodness. It’s our chance to thank Him even more. It brings us back down to earth, literally and metaphorically!
Even at the peak of prophetic achievement, the divine message was about remembering God and continuing to seek forgiveness.
“When God’s help comes and He opens up your way, when you see people embracing God’s faith in crowds, celebrate the praise of your Lord and ask Him for forgiveness: He is always ready to accept repentance.” (110:1-3)
The summary of Parts 1 and 2 is simply this:
- If understood properly, our Salat should inspire us to think carefully about how to spend the time in between prayers in a way that is more meaningful and impactful.
- Then once we set out on a path of serving others for the sake of God and furthering God’s cause, our Salat is vital in lifting us up when things are difficult and humbling us when things are going well.
We’re now halfway through this mini-series on living a mission-driven life. Here’s what’s coming up…
- Part 3: the role of revelation in empowering the prophetic mission and what that means for us today.
- Part 4: key principles that will help you identify a worthy cause and pursue a life of service and leadership.
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Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing.