Home > Christianity, Islam > The Language of Prayer

The Language of Prayer

I have discovered through my web browsing sessions on the internet that Muslims pray in Arabic and many non-Arab Muslims do not even know what they are praying. This seems very similar to what has been going on with Roman Catholics in the past. They go to a Latin Mass and unless they have studied and learned to understand Latin, they really do not know what is being said during the service. (A lot of Masses nowadays are in the language spoken by the people and not Latin.) I have attended Divine Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox church before and heard half of the Liturgy in Greek and the rest in English. There needs to be some common sense here. I will talk about that now.

In the Koran, it says:

O men, you are the ones that have need of God; He is the All-sufficient, the All-laudable. (Koran 35:15, Arberry)

God is All-sufficient. He does not need us. He does not need our prayers. God already knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus said:

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, NKJV)

Prayer is really for our own spiritual benefit, not for God.

St. Paul said:

So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air… For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. (I Corinthians 14:9,14,15, NKJV)

If the religious leaders who are responsible for shepherding me require me to pray in a language that I do not understand, they are having me do something that is not spiritually beneficial to me. If I pray in Latin and do not understand Latin, I am uttering words into the air and “my understanding is unfruitful.” Whenever one prays liturgically, one must unite his heart to his mouth. This is a spiritual discipline. I cannot do that if I pray in a language that I do not understand. Therefore, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.”

King David prayed in Hebrew. Jesus and His disciples prayed in Aramaic. First century Christians converted from among the Gentiles prayed in Greek and Latin. Muhammad prayed in Arabic and not Greek because he understood Arabic. He accepted the teachings from the New Testament that I have just cited. (Koran 29:46) To my Muslim readers I say, if you believe that it is all right to pray without understanding what you have prayed, then you are disobeying the Koran. (Koran 4:136,137)

So, pray in a language that you understand. That is better for you.

God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you. (Koran 2:185, Arberry)

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