The Fruit of Prayer Comes with Toil and Pain
One of the most beautiful of human experiences come from the sweetness of prayer, but its sweetness must be preceded by the bitterness of life.
One of the most beautiful of human experiences come from the sweetness of prayer, but its sweetness must be preceded by the bitterness of life
By Rayhan al-Safawi
There is no bodily or spiritual activity that bears fruit unless pain or toil is associated with it. In spiritual development, pain is not in reference to physical pain, but the kind of spiritual pain that arises out of remorse and contrition of the heart. In the case of spiritual progress, the physical effort you would find at a gym is replaced with repentance and weeping over our sin.
If we read the spiritual biographies of Muslim saints, or if we look into our own lives, we will realize that deep meditative prayer (also known as the gift of prayer) is usually preceded by a special suffering and disturbance in the soul. Why does this happen? It is because during moments of interior pain and suffering, we realize the extent of our powerlessness and vulnerability. Like a child who senses his/her vulnerability, he/she will run to the arms of a parent but in this case, the realization of vulnerability leads us to the arm’s of God.
Real spiritual pain is born out of humility (khushūʿ). In order to acquire the gift of prayer, one must come to the realization that all good things we have in life come from God. Nothing is from us, not our looks, health, families, talents, achievements. Our virtues and value are established by the choices we make, but the circumstances of those choices are not ours. Once this realization becomes visceral, then humility is born producing with it the gift of prayer something which the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) called huḍūr al-qalb (presence of the heart).
Rayhan al-Safawi is a blogger at the World Shia Forum. He lives with his family in the West Coast, United States.