We all want good things to happen in our lives, but too often we want it now; not later.
When it doesn’t happen the way we want it to, we are tempted to ask, “When, God, when?”
Without doubt, most of us need to grow in the area of trusting God instead of focusing on the “when” question.
If we are missing joy and peace, we are not trusting God. If our mind feels worn out all the time, again we are not trusting God.
Since childhood, as Muslims we are taught that God gives us hopes and dreams for certain things to happen in our lives. While all this is sound and good, the part where He doesn’t always allow us to see the exact timing of His plan is what we find difficult to grasp.
Although frustrating, not knowing the exact timing is often what keeps us in the program; the program of communicating with God and keeping the faith that may be, just may be.
I remember years ago questioning my parents what was the point if we don’t know when and if what we want will actually happen. I remember when I asked for something and they would say ‘Insha’Allah’ meaning in Arabic if God wills and me being impatient asking ok, is that like a yes or a no?
Relationship with the Divine
Fast forward, I now understand that there are times when we might give up if we knew how long it was going to actually take; but when we accept God’s timing, we can learn to live in hope and enjoy our lives while God is working on our problems. We know that God’s plan for our lives is good, and when we entrust ourselves to Him, we can experience total peace and happiness.
But what is this communication mentioned earlier that is necessary to keep a relationship strong?
Communication that builds relationships is dialogue and genuine prayer has all of the qualities and characteristics of a deeply meaningful conversation between God and us.
Think, for instance, how the end results of any intentional and constructive dialogue can be wonderful. We know this to be true in our relationships with other people.
How often have we had a deep and heartfelt conversation with another person, and come away from that experience saying, “I have a much better understanding of him and his problems, needs, and concerns.”
We in fact feel ‘wow’ that person I can trust, and we are eager to meet and speak with him/her again. The same is true when we communicate intentionally with God.
Tranquility in Connecting with God
Islam teaches us that every one of us can find comfort only by turning to God and tranquility that results from this communication is mentioned in many verses. The Quran says:
Then Allah sent down His Sakinah (calmness and tranquility) upon His Messenger and upon the believers. (9:26)
Our downfall is when we trip up assuming we know God’s will, because a certain thing makes sense to us. We assume (or in my case hope) that there is only one right ‘answer’ to a specific prayer, assuming certainly that would be God’s will.
Now this is where it gets tough since we live within the limits of time and limits of knowledge. We have only limited information about a situation and the implications of future action on that situation.
God’s understanding, however, is unlimited. How an event plays out in the course of life or history is only something He knows and He may have purposes far beyond what we could even imagine. So, God is not going to do something simply because we determine that; it must be His will. That’s where trust and tranquility step in.
Tranquility: What’s in a Name?
Searching for the best description for tranquility, or its Arabic counterpart ‘Sakinah’, I came to learn that a tranquil heart is a heart that is at peace and that has a sound trust in God.
Tranquility itself is a state of calm enjoyed by those believers who have been saved from doubt, and it is according to one’s closeness to God and steadfastness in following the Messenger’s way. It is through this that we will achieve the tranquility and peace we seek.
The Quran has plenty of verses supporting the significance of trust in God which will ultimately lead to peace:
He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them… (48:18)
Now that we have acknowledged that communication with God leads to a serene and tranquil heart, we are equipped with the information necessary to serve as a springboard to boost our connection with God. As Muslims it is important to understand that the answer to this relationship is through prayers.
Communicating with God in Prayer
Intentional dialogue with God ultimately establishes and deepens our relationship with Him. The purpose of prayer is that we might know God better, experience more of His love, and have an abiding awareness of His work in our lives. Talking to God doesn’t build relationship. Communicating with God however does, through speaking to Him, through our prayers we learn to trust, we learn to believe.
The Quran teaches us this:
Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in this world (they will keep on worshipping Allah Alone and none else), and in the Hereafter. (14:27)
Your Lord has said, ‘Call Me, I will answer you. Indeed those who are disdainful of My worship will enter hell in utter humility. (40:60)
Undeniably, we spend a lot of time in our lives waiting for God’s will, because change is a procedure.
Although we want change, we don’t want to go through the waiting process. But the truth is (deal with it) that waiting is a given and we are going to wait whether we want to or not. The challenge here though is, are we going to wait the wrong way or the right way?
Experience has proven to me that if we wait the wrong way, we will be miserable; but if we decide to wait God’s way, we become tolerant and enjoy the wait knowing that we will be rewarded accordingly for our actions.
Sometimes, God wants to answer our prayers, but the timing isn’t right. As I reflect on my life, I realize that if God had answered certain prayers according to my schedule, I would have missed many of the best moments of my life.
It takes practice, but as we trust God and let Him help us in each situation, we develop patience and endurance, which are the most important virtues of decent practicing Muslims.
The supplication of every one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and says: I supplicated but it was not granted. (Muslim, 2735)
We know that the Prophet found much joy and pleasure through prayer and it was described as the delight of his eye since his strength, will and resolution returned to him. It is narrated that whenever he faced hardships and was beset with fears and anxieties he would say:
O Bilal! Give us comfort and call for the prayer. (Abu Dawud, 4985)
The fruit of prayer is turning completely to God and in return God looks to us, His servants, with acceptance. This is why the Prophet did not say that the coolness of his heart is in fasting, Hajj or Umrah”.
Rather he said:
The coolness of my soul is in the Prayer. (An Nasa’i, 3940)
The Quranic verse highlights the substance of prayers in the verse:
O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the Prayer. (2:153)
This teaches us to never stop praying or believing, to never lose hope or faith and to pray with all our heart building and strengthening our relationship with God throughout the process.
Lastly, understand that nobody loves us like God and nobody desires good for our life more than God. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
Like the persistent friend, God asks that we keep on knocking, keep on seeking and keep on asking with our prayers. In the end He will answer, in His way, in His time.
Remember, faith plus patience equals answered prayers.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)