Sunday, February 20, 2011

Soul's Reflections - Prayer – Does it make God change His mind?

By: Shazia Yousuf

As a child, I had always believed in intense praying. I believed that I could achieve anything, and I mean anything, if I prayed hard enough. Of course I knew hard work was an essential ingredient for achievement but hard work without prayer was incomplete. A very traditional belief, this is what all of us know and have been taught at home and at religious classes and this is definitely the truth.

However, experiences in life gradually made me to scratch my head and compelled me to think and think harder. For instance, I had always desired to get straight As in O’ Level and A’ Level exams. I definitely worked very hard, I believe, and prayed harder. Yet I never got straight As. Anyways, my faith was strong, and I always believed God must definitely have something better planned out for me.

Other seemingly major, but actually minor events kept occurring in life. My belief remained unchanged. One experience, however shattered me, and left me in total dismay.
That event was my mother’s sad demise. It was not sudden. She was ill for over ten years, and gradually deteriorating. But her two month long hospitalization in the ICU was a life changing experience for me. I had been by her side, saw her fighting her pleural effusion, gradually losing her interest in life and finally departing. The doctors made great efforts, the entire family prayed! Prayed in congregation, prayed in solitude, yet none of us could convince God to spare my mother’s soul. The doctors couldn’t save her with their effort and hard work and we couldn’t save her with our prayers and duas.

Maybe the effort was not enough or maybe we did not pray with the devotion that God asks from us. But this somehow did not convince me. I know how I prayed. I know how devoted I was. My mind simply could not accept this argument.

A restless soul within, I started my quest for an answer. I would wonder what God wants from us. Is He actually waiting for us to make Him realize what we utterly need.

I would wonder, when a person is ill, he turns to God in prayer. If the prayer is accepted by God, then the person recovers. Superficially, it seems as if God changed His mind, as if God can be “sweet talked” into backing down from a previously stated position, so to speak. It also seems as if God waits in heaven for our words of supplication, and, if they do not arrive, He wreaks His vengeance and wrath on us.

Furthermore, we are aware that God is an infinite Being who is by definition unchanging; if this is the case, then how can God “change His mind”?

All this somehow made me feel that God does not want anything from us! He has already given us all that He has! He created this universe and made us with all His attributes. He is Generous, Gracious, Merciful, Benevolent, and is recognized by more than a hundred attributes. God is all Love! And, He wants us to imitate His attributes.

God has also given us free will. By practicing this free will it is up to us now to decide which path we take. Whatever good that comes to us has already been given to us by God. Whatever misfortune comes our way is our own doing.

So the question arises, how do we decide which path to take? This is simple! Atonement with the absolute and aligning ourselves with the Divinity opens up the path that we need to tread upon, right in front of us. Sounds easy…right? Well it actually is!

This is where prayer comes into picture. Prayer is an awakening within us. Prayers are heard by the God within us shielded by the perishable body and selfish desires. So, what we achieve from prayer to God is not coming from outside anywhere but from within. When we pray, we pray to no one but to ourselves. There is nobody to listen to our prayers, not in sky or heaven or temple. When we pray, we forget for sometime our worldly affairs or existence. If we come in contact with God, our original form, even for a fraction of a second, our prayers are answered. God listens to us who is nowhere but within us. The guidance comes from within and the harmony in life is regained by aligning oneself with the Divine guidance.

With this concept, I now realize why God did not answer my prayers when I was begging Him for my mother’s health, and I am convinced. I am convinced that prayer is an essential ingredient to success and achievement, but I believe it is not the only one. I am convinced that I can achieve anything with prayer hard work and atonement with the Absolute being, but the reason why I pray is different. I pray because it gives me hope and courage to fight and work my way out of the turbulence and havoc that I create in my life.


  1. No.
    You are not praying alone.
    God hears your prayers, but the purpose of this life is not that your wishes should be granted, it is that you should be taken on a journey that helps you grow to be the best you can be. you are the sword passing through the fire. It will purify you and strenthen you and then one day we will be judged.
    It was your mother's time to go home to her Creator. She did not need to learn anything more from life. That is all.
    Her death was not God refusing to grant your wishes. It was Him being merciful to her.
    Please dont feel that your prayers dont change anything. Mine have and they do every day. I really feel that God answers. Sometimes in dreams, and sometimes with serendepitous coincidence.
    How can I make you understand?
    I lost my littel brother. For a year before I kept dreaming that he was dying in car accidents or drowning. I would just pray to God, please dont let him die a violent death. WHy does he have to die? It was his time. He was in 3 car accidents that year. he did not get a scratch. his car was totalled each time.
    then he drowned while swimming. But you know what, I did not fall apart, because my son was born 1 month in advance as emergency C section. My son's birthday is 7th september 2007. his actual due date was 7th October 2007. My brother died on 7th October 2007.
    DO you see how God protected me? It can not be mere coincidence.
    Wait. TALK to God. open your eyes again and look around you. Existance is a miracle , yes, but the answers to your prayers are all around you too.
    Did you ever stop to think...... maybe it was better for you on the long run that you should not get straight A's ... it could have made you proud or boastful. you are not now.. do you think that is because of your experiences to date?


  2. Veerta,

    There is no denying to the fact that God hears our prayers. I think you missed my point. If you re-read the following:

    "Prayer is an awakening within us. Prayers are heard by the God within us shielded by the perishable body and selfish desires....

    The guidance comes from within and the harmony in life is regained by aligning oneself with the Divine guidance...

    I pray because it gives me hope and courage to fight and work my way out of the turbulence and havoc that I create in my life."

    There is definitely great energy associated with prayers, or for that matter every word or even thought!

  3. I do completely agree with your article - very well said. It is not as though God does not know before hand that we will be praying for an exact event or incident in our lives, He already has knowledge of our intentions, actions and the intensity of our prayers too. I see prayers as a gift from God to us, for our own mental health, self-belief and for us to find sanity in this world. I really only found its true benefit when I got married and moved away from all family into this phase of life where i am expected to make my own decisions and live by them...and realized when there are no parents, no siblings, no mentors to listen to - this form of meditation really helps u think clearer what u want and need or should want and need. It gives me satisfaction in believing that God listens to all prayers but not in the form that we wanted them which is probably why sometimes its not clear to us but to know that Someone has infinitely more knowledge and control than us is just beautiful to know :)

    Thanks for a great blog site