Sunday, September 19, 2004

A soundrel and prayer

There is something to be said about waking up early in the morning before the sun rises to make prayer.

I look forward to prayer with the thought that it will enhance my spiritual self and give me the daily opportunity of seeking forgiveness from Allah. It is me and Almighty God. No one steps between us, nor do I have to ask anyone for permission to speak to Him.

Prayer is and becomes an evolving process in my life that provides me with great relief from an anxiety, stress and seemingly having the weight of the world on my back.

Lisa Simpson (of The Simpson Family ) once said of prayer, after seeing her brother, Bart, on his knees begging for something that prayer was “…the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Sometimes I feel like a scoundrel who has one leg deep in a grave and the second is struggling to drag my body to prayer.

It hasn’t been easy because I’ve never understood prayer as a Christian. Perhaps, because I was too young and a little too dumb to understand the mechanics of prayer as a Christian, I probably squandered away some real good prayer opportunities.

They told me prayer in your life would make mighty, mighty wonders and I believe it did that for some folks, but for me it did little, or nothing that I could see or feel in my life. In my youth, I don’t ever remember getting on my knees and praying, nor do I remember standing and praying.

Yikes…I guess I was leading the life of scoundrel. Praying, the church, the priest and all of the other stuff found in religion didn’t mean a thing to me. My parents weren’t Bible thumpers (thank God) and I wasn’t forced with a leather belt to get down on my rusty little knees and pray for forgiveness or to beg God for toys. What does a kid know about prayer?

My mother and father were cool in the sense that they taught us about God through family acts that always let me know there was a supreme being out there somewhere watching over us. We didn’t have hanging crosses, or sad pictures of Jesus hanging around the house.

As I think back to those days, all I can only recall to hardworking parents who sacrificed anything and everything for eight children. We were a poor family but my mother never told us about it. She never told us to pray and ask Jesus for a car, or a bag of chocolate chip cookies.

So, prayer for me was what those folks did at the black church on the Southside and the little gray church, with the black cyclone fence that was only for whites. No, there weren’t any signs saying: “If you’re black, stay back.” It was just known in the neighborhood that the Jesus of that church was for white folk.

I never knew anything about prayer.

Today, as I move closer to death everyday, I’ve become a lover of prayer. It has meaning in my life because of the teachings of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ( I’m learning what it means to understand the rules of prayer – yes, there are rules in Islam.

Not only are there rules for prayers, but for successful prayers one must understand the necessary conditions of successful prayers.

So, today I’m not going to get anyone whipped up into prayer frenzy because it is Sunday. It is a wonderful day for collective prayer in the Christian world. As they prepare to go to their separate but equal churches in America, I vie with them in righteousness, goodness and prayer.

It’s nice knowing that this scoundrel has already made his prayers before the sun comes up today.


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