More on laziness

Laziness is probably the biggest contributor to an unfulfilling prayer life. It is the number one reason I can say that I am not where I need to be in my prayers. I never before realized how much laziness affects the content of my prayer until I started thinking about why I delay my prayer in the first place. The more i reflected, the more I recognized the patterns of laziness in and around my prayer. Yes it causes me to delay my prayers, but it also has consequences for how I perform the prayer and how much mental effort I exert.  

It’s always easier to do less; to under perform. If i pray later, it’s easier than getting up now and doing it. If I just rush through my supplications, it’s easier than focusing on the meaning of each part. If I recite a regular surah, it’s easier than trying to remember an infrequent one. Over and over, every decision in the prayer can be relegated to doing what’s easy. Consequently, when I answer laziness’ siren call, my prayer becomes more and more empty until it’s just a shell of ritualistic movements.

This is really sad.

It’s sad not just because I end up under performing my prayers but because I’m being lazy in the one relationship that I get more out of than any other. Being lazy is bad for so many innumerable reasons, but with Allah swt, it’s pitiful. He invites me daily to grow my relationship with Him and daily I tell Him, ‘no I would rather ______’. It’s humiliating to think about. And yet, I can’t figure out why I do this … Why am I always choosing the momentary easy way, even though a little more investment will reap so much more!!

Ya Allah give me guidance in finding a way to elevate my prayer …

 

 

 

Delaying – The first step of laziness

One of the most regular offenses I have noticed in myself is putting off praying. Alhamdulila 99% of the time I make the prayer before the window for it has passed. But still, I hardly ever pray within the first 10 minutes of it coming in. Forget about 10 minutes, 20, 30, or even 40 minutes would be good!

There is a lot of information out there on why it’s bad to delay the prayer but none has resonated with me like something I heard from my college chaplain. When the time for prayer comes in, your appointment with Allah swt has come in. She said that when you delay it’s as though you’re telling Allah swt, I have more important things to do than pray to You right now. Eeeeh that is a tough thing to say to Allah … but actions speak loudest and that’s what they are saying every time I delay the prayer

What is the problem here exactly??? I have heard this analogy years ago and yet I can’t seem to make the habit of praying at the earliest moment stick …

Part of the problem is that I try to fit my prayers into my schedule rather than the other way around. So I think, I’ll cook dinner then pray, I’ll finish this page then pray, etc etc

Another part of the problem is using the restroom and wudu. If I already have wudu, it’s much easier to go pray right when the time comes in. If I also have to make wudu though, my prayer is more likely to be delayed.

Honestly though, just from taking a few minutes here to think about what I’ve written, it seems that the underlying problem for delaying my prayer is laziness. Yes, I could do better of scheduling things or being prepared, but those require effort, the same effort it would take to in the moment get up and go pray!! There’s no getting around it … Prayer requires me to combat my laziness.

Laziness is the biggest challenge I am facing in my quest to a more fulfilling prayer life. It’s preventing me from even going to meet Allah on time in the first place! How deep can my prayer be if I can’t even seem to get up quickly enough to go speak to Allah. It’s embarrassing and frustrating that I am not motivated enough in my relationship with Allah …

This has given me a lot to reflect on but for now I will end seeking refuge in Allah from laziness in my prayers and in all my actions …

 

 

Praying behind an Imam

I have always been taught the value and importance of jama (collective) prayer. Praying in congregation not only offers more rewards in your personal scale, but also it helps to bind communities by providing an anchoring ritual for all to partake in. As such, I’ve always considered praying in a group more beneficial than praying by myself. This reflection period however, has brought to light some deep issues I have when I pray in jama behind an Imam.

 

From delaying the prayer to daydreaming more, overall, I can say that if I’m praying behind an Imam, my prayer is of less quality. I was thinking about why this is and I realized that mostly, this has to do with my attitude towards the prayer when behind someone. It’s the attitude of passivity. It’s as if, because I am removed from the responsibility of organizing the physical elements of the prayer, I feel I can wash my hands of engaging in the prayer at all. I rest the entire prayer, both it’s external motions and the spiritual effects it’s meant to produce, on the shoulders of the one leading the prayer. Subhan Allah! This is crazy!! What’s more is that I have been doing this for years!!

Let me draw a parallel here to further bare how convoluted this way of thinking is …

In life we have many different relationships each of which requires different amounts of energy put into it in order to be successful. How much effort you put into your relationship with your mailman will be different than that with your spouse. Mailman less, wife more. And depending on how much effort you give to the relationship, it will either flourish and grow or dwindle and wither. If you want to have a deep empathetic relationship with your mother for example, you need to call her, visit her, send her gifts, and so on. The more you invest, the more you will reap in the relationship.

In our modern world, we have a lot of ways to make connecting with others easier. If you want to call your mother more often, you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you everyday. If you want to send your mother more gifts, you can sign her up to receive a fruit basket monthly. So on and so forth. There are many automatized ways that create the platform for connection. These mechanized time savers however, will not actually do the work of engaging in the relationship for you. They are all just mediums meant to make connecting with others easier. They are supposed to take out the hassle of the mechanics so that you can focus on the actual closeness you experience with another person. The phone can remind you to call, but you must talk to your mom, joke, laugh, and confide in her. The automated delivery can send the fruit basket, but you must go and share the fruit or bake a tart or at least call to ask if she likes the fruit.

Furthermore, if you leave in all these mechanized connection platforms but fail to actually use them to build the relationship, they become a source of pain and annoyance. Imagine everyday seeing a reminder to call your mom which you never respond to. That will just build guilt and resentment instead of love and closeness. From your mother’s side constantly receiving fruit baskets from a child who never calls or visits will be a source of pain and anger for her.

Allah is exalted above any example but our prayers are our way of building a relationship with Him … If we relegate the effort of connecting with Him when we pray, we will never truly be able to build a meaningful relationship with Allah. Jama prayer should help ease the process for a true connection by allowing us to focus on the communication with Allah swt without having to devote as much thought to the mechanics of the prayer itself. This is a blessing from Allah swt which He offers us through jama prayer: increased connection to Him simultaneous to increased connection to the community.

If you view jama prayer as a way to opt out of actually connecting to Allah you are gravely misusing the prayer. Not only have you missed on an eased opportunity for communicating with Allah swt, you have also disregarded the mechanism He has given you. You are telling Allah, I don’t even want to connect with You when you have made it as easy as possible for me to. It’s blatant disrespect. This can only have negative repercussions for how the relationship will grow.

This reflection has probably been one of the most eye opening in my prayer observations. It really showed me how skewed my prayer habits have become and the underlying notions that have been guiding them.

My Allah Grant me clarity of vision and guide my practice of prayer to a better state always. Oh Allah I ask you to Help me make a soul solace of my prayers; a true connection to You.