Online Quran Learning

How God Answers Prayers – Quran Talk Blog

Two of the names of God are The Omniscient ( الْعَلِيمُ ) and The Provider ( الرَّزَّاقُ ). Additionally, God informs us that He answers the prayers of his servants.

[2:186] When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided.

 وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

The question that typically arises is: Does God intervene in His creation to answer our prayers, or are the answers to our prayers already baked into the fabric of the cosmos before we arrived here on Earth?

The pushback some have towards God directly intervening with His creation is that they claim this would mean that God did not account for this beforehand; otherwise, He wouldn’t need to intervene. The fallacy of this logic is the assumption that intervening means God is unaware. To explain why this is an inaccurate representation, imagine you were a chef with plans to make a cake. Before you start, you map out all the steps you will need to take to complete the task. Then you will start the process relying sometimes on the laws of physics to take your creation to the next step and other times directly intervening with your creation to take it to completion. Just because the chef needed to physically intervene in the process does not mean that they were unaware of what was going to happen, but instead was all part of their plan from the start.

God’s system works in a similar manner. God calculated all the parameters that were needed to put things in motion with full awareness of what the outcome would be, and then at predesignated times, He intervenes with a precise intervention as calculated from the start. A good example of this is in regard to the birth of Jesus. It was predestined that God would send His word to Marry for her to conceive. All God needed to do in this phase of the simulation was to insert the word “Be,” and then it became.

[36:82] All He needs to do to carry out any command is say to it, “Be,” and it is.

 إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

If we look at the breakdown of the Arabic, we see that the intention of God is in the past tense. This infers that it was already predestined that God would intervene in His creation at a time He preemptively chose.

1 innamā إِنَّمَا Only
2 amruhu أَمْرُهُ His command
3 idhā إِذَا when
4 arāda أَرَادَ He intended / willed
5 shayan شَيْئًا a thing / matter
6 an أَنْ that
7 yaqūla يَقُولَ He says
8 lahu لَهُ to it,
9 kun كُنْ “Be,”
10 fayakūnu فَيَكُونُ and it becomes.

But this does not mean that all our prayers are answered in this manner where God intervenes each time. Other prayers are already baked in from the start. An example of this can be seen in the dialogue between God and Moses. When God commissioned Moses to go to Pharoah, Moses requested God to appoint Aaron as his helper.

[20:29] “And appoint an assistant for me from my family.
[20:30] “My brother Aaron.
[20:31] “Strengthen me with him.
[20:32] “Let him be my partner in this matter.
[20:33] “That we may glorify You frequently.
[20:34] “And commemorate You frequently.
[20:35] “You are Seer of us.”

 وَاجْعَلْ لِي وَزِيرًا مِنْ أَهْلِي
هَارُونَ أَخِي
 اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي
 وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي
 كَيْ نُسَبِّحَكَ كَثِيرًا
 وَنَذْكُرَكَ كَثِيرًا
 إِنَّكَ كُنْتَ بِنَا بَصِيرًا

When God responds, informing Moses that his request was granted, we see from the Arabic that it was granted as in it already happened prior to Moses even asking.

[20:36] He said, “Your request is granted, O Moses.

 قَالَ قَدْ أُوتِيتَ سُؤْلَكَ يَامُوسَىٰ

1 qāla قَالَ He said,
2 qad قَدْ “Verily / Already
3 ūtīta أُوتِيتَ you were granted
4 su’laka سُؤْلَكَ your request,
5 yāmūsā يَامُوسَىٰ O Moses!

This indicates that God foresaw that Moses was going to make this request, and He had already planned for it accordingly. It is worth mentioning that the word “qad” ( قَدْ ) is typically translated as certainly/indeed/surely, but in context can also infer something that has taken place as in “already.”

From the examples above, we see that God utilizes both courses to answer the prayers of His servants. He intervenes with His creation when He so wishes, and He also preemptively baked the answers to our prayers in advance before the creation. Therefore God is not limited from doing whatever He wills, like some who claim that God cannot intervene in His creation once things are in motion.

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