God Answers Everyone's Prayers
God, the All-Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, revealed in the Qur'an that He is close to man and will answer people when they pray to Him. One of the relevant verses is as follows:
As stated in the verse above, God is close to everybody. He has knowledge of everyone's wishes, feelings, thoughts, every word uttered, anything whispered and even what is concealed deep in one's thoughts. Consequently, God hears and knows everyone who turns to Him and prays to Him. This is God's blessing on mankind, and a manifestation of His mercy, grace and infinite power.
God has infinite might and knowledge. He is the Possessor of everything in the entire universe. Every being, every object, from the seemingly most powerful people to the greatest riches, from the magnificent celestial bodies to a tiny animal dwelling on the Earth, all belongs to God and are all under His complete will and control.
A person who has faith in this truth can pray to God for anything and can hope that God will answer those prayers. For example, a person who is seized by an incurable disease will surely resort to all forms of medical care. Yet, knowing that only God restores health, prayers will be offered to Him for recovery. Alternatively, a person with some kind of fear or anxiety can pray to God for relief and to remove all forms of fear. A person who encounters difficulties in accomplishing a task can turn to God for the removal of difficulties. One can pray to God for countless things; for guidance to the true path, for acceptance into paradise with other true believers, for a better grasp of paradise, hell and the Might of God, for good health and so on. This is what God's Messenger, peace be upon him, stressed when he said:
However, there is another secret disclosed in the Qur'an, which deserves mention at this point. As God states in the verse, "Man prays for evil just as he prays for good. Man is prone to be impetuous." (Surat al-Isra': 11). For example, a person may ask God for more property and wealth for his children's future. However, God may not see any goodness in this request. It may well be that prosperity will turn the children away from God. In this sense, God hears this person's call and answers it in the best way. Alternatively, a person may pray not to be late for an appointment. However, it may well be that it is better for him to reach the destination after the specified time and instead, meet someone who would contribute something beneficial for his eternal life. God knows this and He answers the prayer, not in the form the person thought, but in the best way. That is, God hears that person, but if He sees no good for him in his prayer, He creates what is best for him. This itself is a very important secret.
When prayers appear to go unanswered, those unaware of this secret assume that God did not hear their call. This is indeed a perverted belief of ignorance because "God is closer to man than his own jugular vein". (Surat Qaf: 16) He knows every word one speaks, every thought and every instant pertaining to one's life. Even while one is asleep, God knows what he experiences in his dreams. It is God Who creates everything. Consequently, each time one prays to God, he should be aware that God will accept his prayer as a worship and believe that God will answer his call in the most appropriate time and create what is best for him.
Prayer, as well as being a form of worship, is also a precious gift from God to mankind. This is because, through prayer, God enables man to attain anything He deems good and beneficial for him. God relates the importance of prayers in the verse stating: "Say: 'What has My Lord to do with you if you do not call on Him? But you have denied the truth, so punishment is bound to come.' " (Surat al-Furqan: 77)
God answers the prayers of those who are in distress and need
Prayers are the times when one's closeness to God is explicitly felt; it is a time when one grasps God's closeness and how, as a servant of God, he is in need of Him. This is because when one prays, he grasps how weak and humble he is before God, and perceives that no one except God can ever help him. The sincerity and candidness in one's prayer depends on how desperately he is in need. For example, everybody prays to God for peace in the world. Yet, someone -who is desperate in the middle of a war would pray more earnestly and humbly to God. Similarly, people, during a storm in a ship or in an airplane in danger of crashing, would beg humbly to God. They will be sincere and submissive in their prayer. God relates this fact in a verse as follows:
In the Qur'an, God commands man to pray with humility:
In another verse, God states that He answers the calls of the oppressed and those who are in need:
No doubt, one does not necessarily have to face death to implore God and to pray to Him in need. These examples are given so as to make people have a grasp of the mood with which to pray sincerely and ponder over the moment of death, when one can no longer be heedless and definitely turn to God with an inner sincerity. Believers who are wholeheartedly devoted to God, on the other hand, being aware of their weaknesses and feeling the need, always turn sincerely to God even if they are not in a situation of death or life. This is an important characteristic which distinguishes them from disbelievers and those of poor faith.
Not setting any limits on praying
A person can ask God for anything within the limits of the permissible (halal). This is because, as mentioned earlier, God is the only ruler and owner of the entire universe; and if He wills, He grants man anything He desires. Every person who turns to God and prays to Him should credit God's power to do anything and "be firm in supplication" as our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, said.2 He needs to know that it is easy for Him to fulfil any wish, and He will grant a person's request if there is anything good for that person in his prayer. Prayers of prophets and true believers mentioned in the Qur'an set an example to believers about the subjects they can ask from God. For example, the Prophet Zachariah (Zakariyya), peace be upon him, prayed to God for a pleasing heir and, God answered his prayer, despite his wife's barrenness:
God answered the Prophet Zachariah's prayer and gave him the good news of the Prophet John (Yahya), peace be upon him. Having received the tidings of a son, the Prophet Zachariah was surprised since his wife was barren. The answer of God to the Prophet Zachariah reveals a secret which believers should always keep in mind:
There are many other prophets mentioned in the Qur'an whose prayers were answered. For example, the Prophet Noah (Nuh), peace be upon him, asked God to inflict a torment on his people, who went astray despite his best efforts to guide them to the right path. As an answer to his prayer, God inflicted a great torment on them which went down in history.
The Prophet Job (Aiyub), peace be upon him, called out to God because of his distress, saying "... Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful" (Surat al-Anbiya': 83). The response to the Prophet Job's prayer is related as follows:
God answered the Prophet Solomon (Sulayman), peace be upon him, who prayed, "My Lord, forgive me and give me a kingdom the like of which will never be granted to anyone after me. Truly You are the Ever-Giving." (Surah Sâd: 35). And God bestowed a great power and wealth on him.
Accordingly, those who pray should keep in mind the verse "His command when He desires a thing is just to say to it, 'Be!' (Surah Ya-Sin:82). As stated in the verse, everything is easy for God and He hears and knows every prayer.
God gives blessings of this world to those who desire them, but in the hereafter they will suffer heavy loss
The desires of those who do not harbour a deep-rooted fear in their heart for God and lack a profound faith in the hereafter are worldly-oriented. They ask for wealth, property and status only for the life of this world. God informs us that those who desire only the world will have no reward in the hereafter. Believers, on the other hand, pray both for this world and the hereafter since they believe that the life in the hereafter is as certain and near as this life. Of this, God states the following:
Believers, too, pray for good health, wealth, knowledge and bliss. Yet, all their prayers carry the intention to please God and have something to do for the good of the religion (deen). They ask for wealth, for instance, to use it in God's way. With regard to this, God gives the example of The Prophet Solomon in the Qur'an. Far from being a worldly ambition, the Prophet Solomon's call for unprecedented possessions was for the noble purpose of using them in the way of God, calling people to God's religion and to keep himself occupied with the remembrance of God. The words of the Prophet Solomon related in the Qur'an indicate this sincere intention:
God answered this very prayer of Solomon, granted him a great property in the world and rewarded him with the blessings of the hereafter. On the other hand, God also grants the wishes of those who desire only the life of this world, yet a painful punishment awaits them in the hereafter. No blessing they possess here in this world will be accessible to them in the hereafter.
This important fact is related in the Qur'an as follows: