by Serkan Tufan -A BellaOnline's Islam Editor
Prayer means "calling on, addressing, making a fervent request, asking for help." In the Qur'an, prayer is also described as "turning to Allah with all one's soul" or the "acknowledgement of one's weaknesses and limited power before Allah's infinite might, and asking for help from Him." (Yahya, 2005)
As for supplication, it is the basis of worship of God and servitude to Him. In order to secure a desire or wish he cannot obtain, a child will either cry or ask for it, that is, he will supplicate through the tongue of his impotence either actively or verbally, and will be successful in securing it. In the same way, man is like a delicate, petted child in the world of all living creatures. He has to either weep at the Court of the Most Merciful and Compassionate One through his weakness and impotence, or supplicate through his poverty and need, so that the things he wants may be made subject to him, or he may offer thanks for their being made so. Otherwise like a silly child who creates a fuss over a fly, saying:"With my own strength I subjugate things it is not possible to subjugate and things a thousand times more powerful, and I make them obey me through my own ideas and measures," he displays ingratitude for the bounties. And just as this is contrary to man's innate nature, so too he makes himself deserving of severe punishment (Nursi)
In one verse from Qur'an, Allah directly addresses "And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way. (Baqara 2, 186)"
There are many hadith (Prophet Muhammad's sayings ) on prayer and supplication. Once he said: Allah loves those who insist on praying (Kenzû'l-irfân), "Praying is worshipping itself" , "(Especially)Three prays are not rejected:
The praying of the mathlum (opressed)
The praying of the guest
The praying of the father to the child."
Prophet Muhammed also said "The dua can change our life, our outlook, and our fate. It is the most potent weapon of a believer."
The most important aspect, the most beautiful aim, the sweetest fruit of this is this: “The one who offers the supplications knows that there is Someone Who hears the wishes of his heart, Whose hand can reach all things, Who can bring about each of his desires, Who takes pity on his impotence, and answers his poverty.” (Said Nursi)
According to the Qur'an, prayer cannot be confined to any particular time and place. Because the wishes and needs of people never abate, their prayers never end. That is, prayer has no time limitations.
However the Qur'an mentions when are the best times to pray, such as the nighttime and the morning prayers, when one distances himself from daily tasks in order to concentrate on prayer. One verse stresses the importance of the dawn prayer: "... those who seek forgiveness before dawn." (Surah Al Imran: 17)
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Supplication (also known as petitioning) is the most common form of prayer, wherein a person asks Allah to provide something, either for the person who is praying or for someone else on whose behalf a prayer of supplication is being made.
In Christianity, the prayer of supplication for health by and on behalf of the sick is referenced in early Christian writings in the New Testament, especially James 5:13-16. One example of supplication is the Catholic ritual of novena (from novem, the Latin word for "nine") wherein one repeatedly asks for the same favor over a period of nine days. This ritual began in Spain during the Middle Ages when a nine day period of hymns and prayers led up to a Christmas feast, a period which ended with gift giving. A contemporary Christian example of supplication is the practice of the Daily Prayer for Peace by the Community of Christ where a member prays for peace each day at a specified time.
In Islam, the Arabic word du'ā (plural ad'iya) is used to refer to supplications. Ad'iya may be made in any language, although there are many traditional Islamic supplications in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. In Islam, du'ā tends to mean personal prayer. Muslim prayer beads usually have 33 or 99 beads to represent God's many names.