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You would think, as someone who has gone so far as to start a blog about prayer, I would be really motivated to work on my prayers consistently and passionately. In reality though, I often find myself resisting. I spend weeks just going through the motions of prayer without much thought. I will get a nagging feeling that I’m disregarding my prayers but I will often push that feeling away. A part of me admits: I don’t want to try. It feels easier not to try. It feels easier to forget about prayers all together. It’s easier not to hope that they’ll get better and to hope instead that I’ll just get “points for attendance”.

The heart of Chapter 101: Al’adiyat, reads:

إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنَ لِرَبِّهِۦ لَكَنُودٌۭ (٦) وَإِنَّهُۥ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ لَشَهِيدٌۭ (٧)

indeed, man is certainly ungrateful to his Lord; (6) and indeed, he certainly bears witness to that; (7)

Al’Adiyat 100:6-7

The word in Arabic that is translated as ‘ungrateful’ has a connotation beyond ingratitude. It also implies a feeling of wanting to ignore. Man wants to forget about his Caretaker and push the thought of Him out of his mind. God even goes on to point out that we know this about ourselves. We know that we want to deny God and run away from thinking about Him. God knows, and we know, that we want to ‘not try’

In a recent lecture I attended by Ubaydallah Evans, he said something to the effect of: your prayer is not a reflection of your spiritual state, but rather it will guide your spiritual state. Something about those words hit me. When I read the verses above they gave me feelings of anguish and loathing. But the words of Ubaydallah helped me understand them in the light of God’s mercy and care. God doesn’t leave us to our own weaknesses to sort out our spiritual growth. He assigns a rigorous regimen that we may sometimes begrudge, but that really, is for our own benefit. Our prayers are for us. We renew our connection to God and find our breath again. But even if we don’t – even if our prayers are a series of motions – they are useful. They convince us that we can try. They convince us that that lifeline with God is there. They convince us that there is hope for us still.

Maybe with me, this ‘not wanting to try’ is just a natural manifestation of what God describes in the verses. Maybe it’s something more. Regardless, I have to say I am grateful for the discipline God has forced upon me. I have many days of feeling that I don’t want to try. I have feelings of wanting to hide from God’s gaze and hide from my responsibility to Him. God knows this. There is no escaping Him. Yet, He hasn’t left me to my transient states or my bouts of despair. So long as He gives me life, He asks me to appear before Him. He requires my attendance regardless of how begrudging it is. It doesn’t matter if i didn’t pray well last time, or I feel unmotivated to pray this time. I still need to fulfill my obligation. As they say in bodybuilding: the only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. And so too, God seems to tell us, the bad prayer is the one you didn’t perform.

Was This Useful In Improving the Quality of Your Salah?