The Rev. Justin Hoye, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kansas City, North: Twenty years ago this summer at an academic camp, I was asked to list all the things I wanted to do in life. At the top of my list: to be a father.
Sitting atop a list of skills to learn, foreign locales to visit and obscure knowledge to acquire, that first item could be misunderstood as just another example of a young man’s thirst to conquer the world.
That first hope, though, was more than just a nod to a longing for everything life had to offer. That first hope was a prayer.
God willing, I wanted to be a father in the same manner as my dad: to raise progeny who shared one’s very flesh and blood, to be a provider and mentor and to give of my life in a complete manner.
It never crossed my mind that this yearning to give of myself so completely could be realized in life as a celibate priest.
Being “Father” is now what nearly everyone knows about me. It forges my relationship with fellow Catholics and informs my relationship with strangers.
To be Father dictates how I will spend my day, how I dress, and how I should behave and speak. It is often the first (and last) word I hear in another’s address.
For a young man who admittedly did want to experience everything that the world had to offer, the most unexpected answer to prayer has been my own desire to be Father.
Syed E. Hasan, chairman, Shawnee Mission Islamic Education Center: Prayer to seek fulfillment of one’s need has been an established tradition in many faiths.
It is an acknowledgment not only of the presence of an all-powerful supreme being but also an admission of human limitations. Prayers have many dimensions in Islam — the common one is the required prayers, the salah, which are offered five times a day within designated times.
The other form of prayer, which pertains to the question, is called du’a, which can be translated as supplication. Du’a is a special form of prayer where one asks God to grant the person a certain favor, or fulfill a certain wish, provided it is not a sinful matter.
I am sure most people have offered prayers to improve or change their condition relating to economic, social, health or personal issues. Depending on whether the prayer was answered or not, individual response could vary from one of extreme gratitude to deep frustration and losing faith in God.
Islam teaches its followers to avoid the latter. Muslims are encouraged to turn to God all the time and never shy from asking God for granting their wishes, because he has assured people that he will listen to their du’a whenever they would ask for it.
Allah says in the Qur’an (40:60): “And your Lord says: ‘Call on me; I will answer your (prayer).’” Many times it happens that a person repeatedly asks God to fulfill his wishes, but it does not come true.
This does not mean that God did not grant it, rather he chose to reward the supplicant in a better and different way than what he had anticipated.
In a well-known hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is reported to have said that when a believer makes a du’a it is answered in one of the three ways: The wish is granted while the person is alive (in this world); if not, it is held over as credit for good deeds in the hereafter; or the du’a is accepted by preventing a calamity from harming the person.
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