When it’s time to pray, what do you say? How do you feel? Is it a chore, a bother, something to get out of the way so you can get back to whatever it is you’d rather be doing? When the time for prayer comes in, do you say have to pray, or do you want to pray?
Maybe it’s time to flip the script.
فَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَيْءٍ فَمَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَمَا عِندَ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ
So whatever thing you have been given – it is but [for] enjoyment of the worldly life. But what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely
Prayer. For Muslims, it’s 5 times, every day, where we can stop whatever we’re doing, stand in front of God, glorify Him, give thanks to Him, seek His forgiveness and counsel, and in general, worship Him. Allahu Akbar!
I grew up as a Christian, and we prayed… 3 or 4 times a day, at meals and maybe before bed. Granddad used to say “thank God for the good day, and good food, and good children, amen” (sometimes with the addition of “and good puppies and good kittens” in his empty-nest years, or to drive my mother and aunts and Grandmom nuts). Dad had (and still has) a relevantly similar rote prayer before meals. It was always mostly informal, and mostly random… really, more akin to what Muslims call “dua” (supplication) and “dhikr” (rememberance). Christianity, as I knew and experienced it in those 12 or 14 years, had no formal, stand-in-front-of, put-your-face-on-the-ground-type thing, and certainly not 5 times per day, every day, day in, day out, no holidays, no breaks.
I don’t know much about the other religions, but I don’t think any of them have the blessing, the miracle, that is Salat. Alhamdulillah.
So… for the next prayer, let’s flip the script. Instead of “I have to go pray,” say “I want to go pray.” Treat the prayer like the gift it is, and not like some stupid chore.
I’m reminded of the time I passed off lawn mowing to Samie, the resident young adult male in the house. I gave him something of a choice: he could spend the half hour or 45 minutes it takes cursing me and muttering threats, or he could look at it as an opportunity to own something, to take responsibility for something, to start with a rough, ugly yard, and finish with a tidy, mowed lawn, and when he finishes, to look back and admire the product of his labor.
I’m not sure which option he takes week to week, but I hope it’s the latter. Chores are so much easier to handle, for me, when I treat it like a responsibility and take pride in it.
And if that works for chores, InshaAllah something similar can work for worshiping Allah too. Let’s give it a try: not “I need to pray,” but “I want to pray!” InshaAllah, at the very least, we can fake it until we make it, and InshaAllah we will make it.
May Allah guide me to appreciate the gift nature of Salat, and may He help me to remember Him, and give thanks to Him, and worship Him in the best possible manner, ameen.