Finding God through prayer – and why rationality won’t get you all the way.

In the elementary years of life the seeds of belief are cultivated in a child by its immediate influences through practice or spoken word. Amongst the spectrum of learnt behaviour – bowing and prostrating before The Creator becomes part of a child’s identity, though, it’s mind cannot freely walk the wilderness of self-identity and though a child can barely penetrate the difficult layers of self-consciousness, it is taught that it is to undertake a life long journey towards God. Something it accepts. For now at least.

Being a child, of course, means that not much thought goes into the reason why he or she sees her parents praying five times a day. A young and tender mind often has difficulty trying to reconcile with a God who cannot be seen, and after having grappled with the these difficult questions the majority of the time belief in God remains just that: belief. Something that is carried into adulthood. 

See the problem with mere belief in God is that it does not do justice to that magnificent and marvellous ecstasy that one has the potential to feel with a full realisation of the nature and powers of God. 

But it is arriving at such realisation and understanding, or in the words of the Promised Messaihassuch ‘certainty’ that is the difficulty simply because, as adults we tend to start from the same place where we put down the heavy mantle of trying to prove the existence of God to our 10 year old selves, namely rationality. And that is where most people stumble. 

Belief in God –  belief that will lead to certainty in the existence of God – can never be achieved using rational arguments alone. Meaning that we can never truly recognise and gain nearness to God if we use logic. Ontological, Teleological and Cosmological arguments etc. may show us that there ought to be a Creator but they will never prove to us that there is a God. 

The proof that will take our hand and guide right to the threshold of Allah the Almighty is none other than witnessing the signs and miracles of God in the form of acceptance of prayer. 

How did the Promised Messiahas convince atheists that God exists? He showed them signs and miracles, he prayed to God and would prophesy events prior to their occurrence which left masses of people to conclude that there was a Power from which these miracles originated from. Though the Promised Messiahas penned rational arguments to prove the existence of God – however, the majority of his works are filled with proofs in the form of revelation. 

People would come to him and relate their problems – the Promised Messiahas would then pray for them, not only would he pray for them but he would also, at times, foretell them about the outcome of their trials and thousands of people would witness how his every word was fulfilled down to the last letter. This did not happen once or twice – but rather hundreds of thousands of times. 

And that is how people were able to come to certainty that God existed. 

On a personal level the Promised Messiahas wanted his Community to attain certainty, not the feeling that perhaps there ought to be a Creator, but the strong inclination that there is a God who will answer my prayers. This certainty can only be attained through the acceptance of prayers. He once stated:

“At one place in the Holy Qur’an, God Almighty has appointed it as a sign of His recognition that He hears the supplication of distressed ones, as it is said: 

Or, Who answers the distressed person when he calls upon Him?.’—Al-Naml, 27:63

As God Almighty has appointed the acceptance of prayer as a sign of His existence, how can any sensible person imagine that prayer does not result in visible signs of acceptance and that it is only a formal matter which has no spirituality in it?”[1]

Fixating on rationality and logic alone can never grant one the complete satisfaction of true belief in God, true satisfaction is accompanied when a prayer is accepted – when a supplication is made in earnestness before God and divine succour manifests itself granting a feeling of such tranquillity and peace to the heart that the heart moves to profess ‘God exists!’.

That is why the next time you begin to think of the existence of God and whether you truly are certain that He exists, change your course of reasoning. Stop and think about when your prayers have been accepted. Stop and ponder over whether you actually have a living connection with God, whether He answers your prayers. After such introspection there is only one thing you need to do: pray. For it is through the acceptance of prayer and the act of prayer itself that the heart finds the countenance of God. 

[1] Ayyamus-Sulah, Ruhani Khazain Volume 18, pg. 231

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