Is there a "right" way to pray so that God hears me?
Sincere belief gets us closer to God
Moussa Elbayoumy, director, Islamic Society of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive:
The simple answer is yes: to pray with sincerity in your heart.
In Islam, there are three forms of worship; all are roughly translated into "prayer," for lack of an equivalent word in English.
The first is "Salah," a ritual prayer proscribed at certain times throughout the day, where one washes up in preparation, physically faces toward Mecca and recites verses from the Quran while standing, bowing and kneeling in God's presence.
The second is "Dua'a," or calling upon God with supplication during Salah or at any other time.
The third is "Zthikr," or remembering God and thinking about God's attributes and blessings.
The common theme among all three forms is calling upon God, thinking of God and asking God for whatever one needs. In the Quran (God's revealed book), God says, "Call upon Me and I shall respond," (40:60) and "When My servants ask about Me, then surely I am near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant who calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way." (2:186) God also reminds us that he is closer to the worshipper than the vein in his or her neck (50:16).
Nothing gets us closer to God than sincere belief, and total submission to God's will. The greater one's need, the stronger his/her belief should be that no one can provide for that need other than God.
Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him and all of God's messengers) advised to "Call upon God with certainty of the response." That certainty can only arise from strong and sincere belief, repentance of past sins and full intention to fully submit to God's will. So when the time comes, fill your heart with sincerity, pray often and use words when necessary.
True prayer is relating to God
The Rev. Bill Hurlbutt, senior pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
Fortunately for humanity, Jesus spoke several times, throughout the biblical record, concerning prayer. Prayer in its basic sense is simply communication with God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus made two rather bold statements we are called upon to accept as truth.
When the disciples of Jesus sought the way to heaven and God the Father, Jesus stated: "I am the way." (John 14:6) Humanity by itself has never, and will never, be able to attain holiness to the extent that they might enter into the presence of the holy God.
The God of the Bible knew of this dilemma long before the creation of man and provided an avenue for unworthy humanity to become acceptable in his sight -- that avenue being Jesus Christ.
Jesus came into this world to remedy the situation. He lived a perfectly sinless life, never failing to live as God the Father intended him to. Jesus then gave up his life as a sacrificial payment to obtain our holy standing before God. This is why he could say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
The word of God is clear that mankind is to pray in the "name" of Christ Jesus. (John 14:13) This is much more than simply tacking on a phrase at the end of a prayer. It is an acknowledgment of Christ's sacrificing of himself for our benefit; for if it were not for what Jesus has accomplished by his death and resurrection, we would not be able to approach God at all.
In this age of tolerance -- forgive me -- but Jesus left no room for compromise. True prayer is not about the words we say, nor the place where we say them. True prayer is about our relationship with God. It's about being with God, and that is only possible through his son, Jesus Christ.
Send e-mail to the Rev. Bill Hurlbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.