Driving personal and professional success through specificity in prayer

Image of a man prayingFor those of us who believe in a higher power, prayer is an essential part of our faith. And during the performance of our prayers, we often call upon our Creator’s omnipotence, compassion, and mercy to help us overcome obstacles in the way of our personal or professional goals or success. But it sometimes seems that no matter how much or how hard we pray for a change in our circumstances, our prayers appear to go unanswered.

Are our prayers really going unanswered? If, on the other hand, they are being answered but we are not happy with the answers provided, then why are we not getting what we are asking for? The answers to these questions may perhaps be found by considering how we are asking for what we need.

Mrs B. recently pointed in the direction of the blog article The Dua’a That Led Me to My Husband. In her blog post, the author recounts the story of how she had been praying to Allah to provide her with a husband but her prayers had seemingly not been answered. She said that she had subsequently come to understand that God had actually been answering her prayers, but she had unknowingly been rejecting the answer. Several possible candidates for husband had come her way but she either did not notice them or she rejected them. Why? Because they did not meet the expectations that she had for a life partner/soulmate — expectations that she had neither considered nor verbalized when asking the Almighty for help. In short, she determined that the reason why she hadn’t been given what she was looking for was because she hadn’t been specific enough in her previous requests to Allah for help.

She went on to say that she adjusted her approach by being very specific about the qualities she wanted in a mate, then made her dua based on that. About a month later, she met her match, and they got married a year later.

Now some people might consider her to be ungrateful. After all, since God knows what is best us for each one of us and He had answered her initial prayers and given her what she asked for, why didn’t she just accept it? An answer, perhaps, is free will. Free will encompasses being able to design our lives as we want them to be. And that sometimes means turning down gifts and good advice. Because if we must accept without question what we are given, even if we ask for it, then the presumption of free will becomes moot.

But I don’t consider this young woman to be ungrateful at all. In fact, I view her recognition that she needed to be more specific in her prayers as evidence of Allah’s mercy toward her. For God tells us many times in the Quran that He wants us to think, and suss things on the basis of rational thought supported by the faculties and senses that He has given to us. He wants us to do this so we can be successful in this life and the next. By answering the woman’s prayer but still leaving her unfulfilled, God did two things:

  1. He provided her with proof that He does indeed hear and answer prayers.
  2. He forced her to think about the implications of asking for something she wanted before considering all of the consequences associated with it.

I think it was fortunate that Allah left her unfulfilled; if she had married one of the fellows that had been put in her path when she first made a “general” request for a husband, she may well have ended up worse off than not having married at all.

Projecting all this into the arena of personal and business success, it may be helpful to think back on all the times we wished for or asked God for something during a period of desperation, didn’t get what we asked for initially, and were thankful that we didn’t. Because, in our desperation to return to a normal life, in our rush to leave our misery, we hadn’t given enough thought to the implications of what we were asking for. If we had actually gotten what we thought we needed, we likely would have ended up worse off, or with additional problems to contend with. And with the second chance that we were given, this “sober second thought” so to speak, weren’t we able to ask for and find a solution that was ultimately a much better fit to our situation?

One thing in life that we cannot control is time. So it’s important to make the most of the amount we’ve been given by thinking hard about the best solutions to our challenges, and quickly focusing on and being specific in our wishes and requests to the Creator for help in moving beyond them. We really have nothing to lose, but much to gain, by doing so.

About George Bohlender

Writer | Entrepreneur | Advocate for Islamic/Responsible Finance & Entrepreneurship | Economic Developer. Particularly passionate about helping MSMEs, NGOs, communities, and youth develop their organizational capaaity and human talent to achieve success.

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