Does praying five times a day is boring and wearying?
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Surely the prayer is a timed prescription for the believers.
Once, a man of considerable age, great stature, and high social position
said to me: ‘The prayer is OK, but five times a day is too much; it bores
A long time after the man said this, I gave ear to my carnal soul, and I
heard it say exactly the same things. I realized that with the ear of
laziness, it was taught the same lesson by Satan. Then I came to understand
that those words had issued from the man in the name of all evil-commanding
souls. So I said to myself: Since my soul orders evil, and one who does not
reform his own soul cannot reform others, I shall begin with my own soul.
I said: O soul! In response to those words which you uttered in compound
ignorance, in the bed of indolence, in the torpor of idleness, hear from me
the following five warnings:
O wretched soul! Is your life permanent? Have you any documents showing
that you will remain until next year, or even until tomorrow? What causes
you weariness is your fancy that you live forever. You complain as though
you will remain in the world for eternal enjoyment. Try and understand that
your life-time is short, and that it passes all in vain. Then you would
surely understand that—far from causing boredom or weariness—spending one
twenty-fourth of it on a fine, agreeable, easy, and gracious act of service
which is the means to happiness in the real, eternal life, in fact arouses
vigor and gives pleasure.
O gluttonous soul! Every day you eat, drink and breathe; does any of that
cause you boredom? It does not; because since the need recurs, it gives
pleasure, not boredom, to satisfy it. That being so, the five daily prayers
should not cause you boredom for you have companions in the house of the
body, namely the heart, the spirit, and inward God-directed faculties, and
the prayers attract and conduct to each of them its sustenance, water of
life, and air.
The food and strength of a heart which is exposed to endless grief and
pain, and inclined to infinite pleasures and ambitions, may be obtained by
knocking through supplication on the door of One All-Compassionate and
For a spirit which is connected with most beings and speedily traveling
to the other world amid cries of separation, the water of life may be
imbibed by turning through the five daily prayers towards the spring of
mercy of an Everlasting Beloved.
Finally, a conscious inward sense, a luminous God-directed faculty by
nature desires the eternity for which it was created. It is a mirror to the
Eternal Being and is infinitely delicate and subtle. It is surely most needy
of ‘air,’ of relief and relaxation, in the distressing, crushing, and
suffocating conditions of this worldly life, and it can only ‘breathe’
through the ‘window’ of the prayers.
O impatient soul! Is it at all sensible to be thinking now of the
hardship of worship past, the difficulties of praying, of troubles and
calamities, and be distressed, and to anticipate the difficulties of future
duties of worship and service in prayer, and the pain of future misfortunes,
and show impatience?
In such impatience as this you resemble a foolish commander. When one
flank of the enemy forces have come over to join the right flank of his
forces, thus becoming fresh reinforcements for that flank, he sends a
significant contingent from the center of his defenses to that right flank,
thus weakening the center. Also, while no enemy forces are attacking the
left flank, he sends a big contingent to that flank and even gives the
command of fire. Thus he leaves the center without any significant strength
at all, and seeing this, the enemy attacks the center and puts it to rout.
Indeed, you resemble this commander, for the trouble of the past days has
today become mercy; the pain they caused has gone, while their pleasure
remains. The hardships have changed into blessing, and the trial and toil
into reward. That being so, it should not cause you weariness, rather, it
should arouse you to new eagerness, a fresh zeal, and a serious effort to
continue. As for future days, since they have not come as yet, it is the
same lunacy as complaining and being distressed now about future hunger and
thirst to think of them now and feel bored and wearied.
Since this is the truth, if you are sensible, you will consider only
today with respect to worship, and say: ‘I am spending one out of its
twenty-four hours on pleasant and elevated acts of service, the reward for
which is great and whose trouble is little.’ Then your bitter disappointment
will change into a pleasurable endeavor.
O impatient soul! You are charged with three types of perseverance. One
is perseverance in worship. Another is perseverance in refraining from sins.
A third is perseverance in the face of misfortunes. If you are reasonable
enough, take as your guide the truth contained in the comparison in this
third warning, and call in manly fashion, ‘O Most Persevering One!,’ and
derive strength from these three types of perseverance. If you do not use up
in the wrong way the power of perseverance that Almighty God has given you,
it will suffice for every difficulty and misfortune, so hold out with that
O foolish soul! Is this duty of worship so fruitless, and is the reward
for it so little that it causes you weariness? Whereas if someone were to
offer you a little money, or to threaten you, he could make you work till
evening, and you would work without listlessness.
Again, are the five daily prayers in vain, which in this guest-house of
the world are the ‘food’ for your weak heart, and in your grave (which will
be a station for you to eternal life) sustenance and light? Are the five
daily prayers useless which on the Last Day, when you will anyway be judged,
will be a document and warrant, and on the Bridge, over which you are bound
to pass, a light and a mount? Or is the reward for them little? Whereas if
someone were to promise you a present worth a few hundred dollars, he could
make you work for several days. Though the man may go back on his word, you
would trust him and work without showing any signs of tiredness.
The One for Whom the breaking of promise is inconceivable, promises you a
reward like Paradise and a gift like eternal happiness, and employs you for
a very short time in a most agreeable duty. If you, in return, do not
perform that service, or act in a manner to accuse Him of His promise or
belittle His gift by working reluctantly like someone forced to work, do you
not think that you will deserve a severe reprimand and terrible punishment?
While you serve without slacking in the heaviest toil in this world out of
fear of imprisonment, does the fear of an eternal imprisonment like Hell not
give you zeal for so light and pleasant an act of service as the prayers?
O worldly-minded soul! Are your sluggishness in worship and deficiency in
the prescribed five daily prayers because of the multiplicity of your
worldly pre-occupations, or because you are pressed for time on account of
the struggle for livelihood? Were you created only for this world that you
should spend all your time on it?
You know that, with respect to your potential, you are superior to all
the animals; and that, with respect to providing for yourself the
necessities of worldly life, you are less capable than a sparrow. Why, then,
do you not understand that your basic duty is not to labor like animals but,
like a human being, to toil for the real, everlasting life? Most of what you
call worldly pre-occupations are various trivial, useless matters which,
although they do not concern you, you meddle in and confuse officiously.
Leaving aside the most essential things, you spend your time, as though you
had thousands of years to live, on acquiring useless information. For
example, you waste your precious time to take an interest in worthless
things like what the rings around Saturn are like, or how many chickens
there are in America.... Why? Are you preparing a doctorate in astronomy or
in statistics about livestock?