Prayer in Islam
Prayer is of tremendous important in Islam. As one of the 5 Pillars of Islam, many Muslims view prayer as an key expression of their faith.
Muslims are required to pray at five set times of day, starting at dawn and ending between sunset and midnight. While all Muslims believe this is correct and important, in many secular Muslim cultures, or families, the 5 daily prayers are not strictly observed.
These prayers are rather formal and may seem heavily ritualistic, yet they are very similar to early Christian or Jewish ritual prayers. Yet despite their formal nature, these times can often be very personal and meaningful.
Each day begins with prayer
The prayer schedule gives Muslims a pattern for their day. In Islamic-majority countries, the public call to prayer from the mosques sets the rhythm of the day for the entire population, including non-Muslims, and the call to prayer can often be heard throughout the city.
The ritual prayers
The prayer ritual, which is over 1400 years old, is repeated five times a day by hundreds of millions of people all round the world.
Muslims should ensure they are in the right frame of mind before they pray so that they can concentrate exclusively on God. And, in this way, Christians ad Muslims share some key theology.
If a Muslim prays without the right attitude of mind, it as if they hadn’t bothered to pray at all.
“Woe to those who pray, but are unmindful of their prayer, or who pray only to be seen by people.”
– Qur’an 107:4-6
Praying in the mosque
Muslims can pray anywhere, but it is considered especially holy to pray with others in a mosque. And while praying together is is thought that all humanity is one, and all are equal in the sight of Allah.
Prayer is to be done with heart and body cleanliness, with cleanness of clothing and in a ceremonially clean place. The washing of the hands, nose, face, forearms, ears, and feet in preparation for Muslim prayer is important.
The Language of Prayer
Muslims place very strong emphasis on the exact postures and the words of their 5 daily prayers (which are always in Arabic). Almost all Muslim prayer is concerned with reciting specific phrases from memory. In the course of the five regular prayer times a Muslim will prostrate himself before Allah a total of 34 times and he will repeat the following phrases:
“Allah is greater”
“Praised be my mighty Lord”
“Allah hears the one who praises him”
He will also recite the Al-Fatiha (the first chapter of the Quran) or another text from the Quran 17 times, the Shadada (confession of faith) and the greeting of peace to all Muslims.
At the mosque and at home, Muslims quite often take time to pray less formally after they finish their ritual prayers. It is not unusual to see Muslims praying with sincere devotion, and occasional tears, as they plead for help with their job, family or health.
Because of a sense of fatalism in many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, most Muslims have little faith that their prayer requests will be answered. They generally believe that God’s desires (for good or ill) will always be done despite their activities or requests.
Muslims never expect God to speak back to them directly and certainly not during prayer. The vast majority of Muslims will say that God only speaks through the Qur’an. Even Mohammed is said only to have heard from God indirectly through an angel.
*Note: All Arab speakers – both Christian and Muslim – use the word Allah for God, despite differing beliefs about theology. Allah is the standard Arabic word for God.
- Muslims need to come to know and understand God’s love for them. Pray that Muslims would come to believe that God Himself wants to communicate directly with them.
- Pray for nee Believers, that they may develop real confidence in God as one who keeps His covenants, makes promises and who hears and answers prayer.
- Christians need to share their understanding of God with Muslims in humility. Pray that God will give us wisdom when describing how God works in our lives so that God would be glorified and Muslims could understand Him better.