Do You Struggle to Pray When You Are Sad?
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Written by Dr. Marwa Assar, PsyD
Psychologist, Educator, & Founder of The H.O.M.E Institute
The topic of missing prayers is one that is very hard for many people to discuss. It is because we know prayer is a pillar of our faith, a command from God we must fulfill, and we know just how important it is to not delay or miss any of our 5 main daily prayers. And as a result, many people struggle to discuss their spiritual challenges due to shame and guilt over displeasing God and the way it might be perceived by others. This doesn’t mean we should flaunt or advertise that we do not pray or miss our prayers, but it is important to talk to the right people, seek help with our spiritual challenges, and increase our understanding of their relationship to our mental and emotional wellness. We cannot dismiss the relationship between our spiritual and psychological health, for the facets that make up who we are and the different areas in our life, do not function in separation of one another. Everything within us interacts with each other, and the areas in our life are impacted by one another. We cannot work on our spiritual growth in separation of our psychological and personal growth, and the opposite is true as well. And that is why I am not only passionate about exploring how Islam and our faith can empower our psychological health, but I am also passionate about exploring how our psychology impacts and interacts with our faith and how our mental and emotional struggles impact the way we walk towards God. And over the years, through exploring this area and working with others, God has led me to discover many significant ways in which our psychology can impact the way we walk towards God, and one of the most significant ways it impacts us is when it comes to our prayers.
For so many people, their feelings of emptiness, sadness, low self-worth, and excessive feelings of shame play a role in their relationship with prayer and their ability to consistently pray. Missing prayer was not an issue of not wanting to be good with God, but it was an issue of not being good with themselves. Most often, I witnessed that it was an issue that was rooted in their relationship with themselves due to childhood wounding, past trauma and abuse, or past difficulties that altered their ability to connect with themselves in a healthy way. I saw how adults who had difficult upbringings or were in abusive relationships carried excessive feelings of shame that made it hard for them to walk towards God on their most difficult days, and how that shame only increased after they fell short in their spiritual obligations, which only exacerbated their mental and emotional struggles. But just as I saw how much an unhealthy relationship with ourselves can negatively impact the way we walk towards God, I also saw how healing and improving our relationship with ourselves can completely transform our relationship with God and the quality of our acts of worship. This realization is what led me to develop psycho-spiritual courses and programs like my Sacred Self-Love Course and God & Me Psycho-Spiritual Transformation Program. I felt like we can no longer avoid the subject of having a healthy relationship with ourselves and its connection to our relationship with God and spiritual growth. I felt like we can no longer limit our understanding of “I” to the nafs or ego, for we are made up of other entities that require our love, care, and attention. And we can no longer live and function in compartments as if the areas in our life function in separation of one another. For too long, I witnessed people separate their relationship with themselves from their relationship with God, think they are not related, and go on living their lives with the notion that their spiritual health will magically improve without rectifying this most basic and sacred relationship with themselves. For too long, I have seen people minimize topics like self-love as if it this fluffy subject that has nothing to offer us spiritually or they do the opposite: they prioritize self-love while disconnecting it from their relationship with God and the spiritual work of purifying the heart. And for way too long, we have oversimplified the spiritual path, which has limiting our understanding and prevented us from having a holistic and wholehearted view of ourselves and our journey towards God.
But this has to change for us to begin truly and significantly transforming our lives and our relationship with God, ourselves and others. This has to change if we want to create spaces in our homes, mosques, and communities that are nourishing and beneficial to the hearts of those who exist within them.
We have to deeply connect to the fact that this inner work matters. Working on ourselves matters, and just like it is important to have a healthy relationship with others that is pleasing to God, it is just as important for us to learn the knowledge and tools that will help us in having a healthy relationship with ourselves that is pleasing to God as well! For if we take the time to tackle the psychological barriers that have kept us from worshipping God beautifully, how can that not be pleasing to God? How can that work not be meaningful, powerful, and beneficial? In fact, you will find that this work will transform everything else in your life. It will change the way you approach your problems, the way you feel about yourself, the way you function in your relationships, and it will most definitely change the way you walk towards God and practice and benefit from this beautiful way of life that He prescribed for us: Islam. So I urge you, invest in this work. Invest your time, your energy, your money, your efforts, and most importantly your heart in doing this work that impacts your journey in this world and your destination in the next world!
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About the Author:
Dr. Marwa Assar is a psychologist, educator, writer, and founder of The H.O.M.E Institute. She is dedicated to providing psycho-spiritual education and empowerment through an Islamic psychological lens. She is the founder and teacher of the Sacred Self-Love Course, The God & Me Psycho-Spiritual Transformation Program, as well as other courses designed to empower you spiritually, mentally, and emotionally! Click here to learn more about Dr. Marwa and her work!
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