Quranic Reflection No. 428. Ayat 19:4 – Not being disappointed in prayer

وَلَمْ أَكُنْ بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا
Walam akun bidu‘ā’ika rabbi shaqiyya
Never have I, my Lord, been disappointed in supplicating You!
(Sūrat Maryam, No 9, Āyat 4)

When Prophet Zakariyyā (a) prays for a child in old age he knows he will not be disappointed in his supplication. He says he has become quite old, but he has not lost hope for God has never disappointed him. The word shaqiyya in this verse means being unfortunate, weary, or grieved. None of these apply to the supplications of the prophet to Allah ‘azza wajall.

Prophet Zakariyyā had been accustomed to the acceptance of his supplications by his Lord and knew that He had never withheld His blessings from him. His statement that he has never been wretched in his supplications means that in the past God has always answered his prayers. It could also mean that based on continuous blessing from the Almighty, Zakariyyā felt that he has never been unblessed. However, he is asking for one important request of being granted a child. He is looking at a bigger picture and not using this one incident of not having a child come in the way of being thankful to the Almighty for his numerous blessings.

Supplication is the tool through which a believer fixes what is not working in life. To supplicate God is to stand at the door of His mercy and ask to be let in. It means knowing that God’s grace is available for His servants and those who ask for it receive it. The attention is focused on the Lord and His qualities. The door of God’s mercy is open for all but entry into it could be in different ways. It may not be in the exact way anticipated by the supplicant. The Holy Prophet (s) says: Every Muslim who supplicates—unless it is for committing sins and severing kinship ties—is given by Allah one of these three things: He grants his request; He reserves it for him in the hereafter; or in lieu of it, He repels calamity to befall him. (Muhammad Bāqir Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwar, v. 93, p. 366, H. 16.)

Disappointment in supplications happens when we fail to realize the following:
1) Our actions can be barriers that prevent the mercy of God from reaching us.  Imam Ali (a) says: Be wary of God; reform your actions; purify your intentions; enjoin what is good; and forbid what is evil so that your supplications might be accepted. (Ibid, v. 93, p. 376)

2) The prayer may be answered but we don’t realize it as we are waiting for something miraculous to happen. Sometimes what we get through common means in everyday life is actually an answer to our prayers. Simply wishing for good and continuing smoothly with life is an inherent wish in us; this is constantly being fulfilled through Divine blessings. However, we don’t think about it as we take things for granted.

3) We cannot be disappointed if we consider Allah to be the Rabb (Lord, provider, cherisher, protector, guardian). There is no room for hopelessness then as there is faith that Allah (swt) is always present and attentive to our needs.

Remember that one of the tactics of Shaytān is to make you lose hope in Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā. Don’t let negative thinking make you feel that your supplication will not be answered. Use this verse to motivate and inspire yourself. No difficulty in life, however much persistent, should cause you to be disappointed in Allah’s answer to your supplications.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh