SHAFAQNA- How to Feel the Joy of Worship?
It has been a while that I did not like to say my prayers. I find a lot of excuses in order not to say my prayers. For example, I tell myself that I will say my prayers after I watch a movie. But after that, I study or I find other things to do, just because I do not want to say my prayers. I do not know why this has happened to me. Why can’t I enjoy saying my prayers?
I used let go of everything just to say my prayers, but now as if saying my prayers in the most difficult thing ever. I cannot even remember the last time I talked to God. I keep myself busy until it is passed the prayer’s time. This is not actually easy; but I would prefer take this hardship than to say my prayers. I was surfing the net today when I found a very inspiring story. I think it was a warning for me from God. You will know why soon. I have sunk and I know a hundred people like me who have turned their backs to God and to prayers for no reason. Why is that? Here is the story that touched me so deeply:
One day, Prophet Moses, the son of Imran, ran into an impolite young man.
“Moses!” said the young man shamelessly, “I will never do what your God has commanded and I will do the things He has prohibited. Tell Him on my behalf that He could punish me anyway He wishes.”
Prophet Moses turned his back to him and left.
One day, when Prophet Moses was saying his prayers, God told him, “I heard the message that the young man gave you for Me, despite your being ashamed of talking about it. Tell that young man on My behalf that he is being punished with the most severe punishment ever. He might not feel the pain now, but when he finally feels it, there is going to be no escape for him.”
“Lord!” said Prophet Moses, “That young man looked very pleased and happy. There were no signs of misery in him.”
“Moses!” said God, “The greatest punishment for every human being is that the joy of worship is denied to him. He feels no joy in saying prayers, so he does not do it and as a result, he will enter the Hell after death. This is the punishment for this young man. He just does not realize his misery yet.”
In order to feel the joy of worship, one needs to let go of the corporal whims, to fight against the excessive needs, to learn the divine knowledge, and to love God wholeheartedly; because the joy of worship is actually nothing but the love of God, and the knowledge about Him. One enjoys saying his prayers, who is in a permanent fight with his corporal whims.
Therefore, if we do not find joy in saying our prayers, it is because we have not been successful in getting rid of our corporal whims and that the attachments of this world are still present in our hearts. It could also be because we have not worked hard enough to cultivate our souls and to love God wholeheartedly.
There are two kinds of joys. The worldly or material joy, and the spiritual joy. These two are contradicting each other. If one wants to be able to enjoy the spirituality, he needs to keep away from materialistic matters. When the worldly whims distances us from God, we cannot enjoy worshiping Him anymore.
Too much love for the worldly affairs and being after worldly joys prevents one from finding joy in spiritual matters.
The greatness of spiritual joys depends on the greatness of one’s love towards God. Prophets were the best servants of God; that is why they had the greatest joy in worshiping Almighty God. Such a pleasure they would never exchange for anything else.
Therefore, one of the most important and most influential things that could take away the joy of prayers is committing a sin.
Just like every other thing, saying prayers too has different conditions.
According to Allameh Javadi Amoli, “He definitely enjoys saying his prayers, the one who earns his livelihood by lawful means only.” Just the way a sick person cannot enjoy good smells, a sinner cannot enjoy saying prayers either. Only a clear and cultivated soul finds joy in worship.
The person who thinks about God in every aspect of his life, is in the best state when saying his prayers. The more one distances himself from the sins, the better he will realize the greatness of God and enjoys being with Him.
In order to gain perfection, one needs to purify his soul. Our soul is not purified if we cannot control our desires; because God leaves the heart once other things enter it. That is why people do not enjoy saying their prayers anymore.
According to Imam Khomeini, “Even those who say prayers and praise the Lord with a superficial knowledge, they are better than the people who do not pray at all.”
If you have experienced the joy of worship before and you do not feel the same way anymore, maybe this is just a warning from God for you so that you won’t get arrogant; as God could make you laugh or cry, anytime He wants. Satan is always there. He tries to distance people from saying their prayers and if he could not, he will try to infect them with sins like arrogance, etc.”
Because a person, who is too proud of saying his prayers, might falsely believe that the Almighty God, the Needless One who has created him, owes him. That is why it is said that one should thank God even for the good deeds he does, as all the successes come from God.
Therefore, even one’s arrogance is a bounty from God, just to take away the joy from one for a while, as nothing happens if God does not want it to happen.
Imam Ali said, “The sin that makes you regret is better than a good deed that makes you feel arrogant.”
This is a very touching statement, and proves how dangerous arrogance is for people. One’s state and feelings keep changing so that the real feelings are recognized from the temporary habits. One could keep a good behavior by practicing, asking God for help, and being serious and pure in the way towards Him.
Sometimes too much problems and miseries cause one to get closer to God. But people usually forget about God after their problems are solved; “Now, if they embark on a boat, they call on Allah, making their devotion sincerely (and exclusively) to Him; but when He has delivered them safely to (coast) land, behold, they give a share (of their worship to others)” (Al-Ankabut: 65)
The Mental Business:
Everyday thoughts of people could be a barrier in the way of communicating with God. As said before, one should think about God all the time, so that he could enjoy saying his prayers too.
The heart of man experiences happiness and misery according to its state. In other words, one is very passionate about saying his prayers at times and is not in the mood for it at some other times. The better servant for God, the better chances for one to experience the state of happiness.
According to Imam Ali, “Human heart sometimes faces God and spiritualities and it sometimes turns back to it. When your hearts are passionate for God, you should do everything that pleases Him. But at the times of boredom, just do what God has ordained you to do. With more effort, in fact, one gets closer to the Quran and to the household of the Prophet. With more practice one can more and more experience the times of happiness of heart and if he gets to the highest position, he will have God in mind all the time and nothing could stop him. This is called “permanent prayers”.”
Some of the Things that Could Make One Enjoy Worship:
A) One should prepare himself before saying his prayers and worship; meaning, he should focus on the fact that he is going to say prayers and that he should not think about anything else. B) One should worship God in the best possible time. One should not say his prayers when he is tired or sleepy. C) One should not say his prayers in a noisy and crowded place. To worship God, one needs a calm and quiet place. D) One should get rid of every other thought when saying his prayers and try to concentrate on nothing but his prayers as much as possible.
This state of passion and boredom of heart could happen to everyone and we should not lose hope and let the Satan take advantage of us. We need to ask God to help us all the time and to talk to Him about our problem. The important thing to know is that not everyone enjoys saying prayers. Every obligation has its hardships and we need to be patient, so that this task will become easier for us by time. To worship is to surrender to God. If we want this joy, we need to let go of some other superficial joys. Let’s pray for each other and beseech God to grant us happiness.