Monday, December 20, 2010

Power of Prayer

As the holidays approach for many, the upcoming days are usually a great time of reflection and prayer.  Whether the prayers you offer are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or any other faith you adhere to, an inherent belief is needed to give the prayers meaning. 
A common Muslim phrase that is often repeated before embarking on any task is “’id’eelee” which essentially means “pray for me” in Arabic.  Asking others to pray for you is common across religions and cultures and shows the power of prayer to transcend religious boundaries that may otherwise seem insurmountable. 
Recently, a professional acquaintance sent me a link to preview his blurb book of inspirational quotes, images, and stories.  One story in particular caught my attention since I had just been asked by my Christian friend to pray for her, even though my Muslim prayers were probably very different from hers.  The following story struck a chord that showed it’s often the intention of prayer that matters more than how, when, or in what way you offer those prayers.  I hope this story is as stirring for you as it was for me.  Reprinted with permission from Fahim Munshi (     
“A ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small desert-like island. The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God for help.  To find out whose prayer was more powerful, they decided to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the island, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.  After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, there was another ship wreck, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the island. On the other side of the island, there still was nothing.
Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, and more food. The next day, like magic, all of these things were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.  Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked on his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven boom out, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"

"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything."

"You are mistaken!" the voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings."

"Tell me," the first man asked the voice, "what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?"

"He prayed that all your prayers would be answered."

Pray as we might for ourselves, it’s often the unselfish prayers of others for us that are most likely to be answered.  This holiday season be sure to repeat the mantra of “id’eelee” in whatever language you speak to anyone who believes in the power of prayer.  If we all pray for each other, the prayers of the world are bound to be answered one by one.  May all your prayers be answered this season and happy holidays to all!
          -Suzy Ismail


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