There are two extremes people go to, one is being overly skeptical about every possible acceptance of prayer, and the other is overly attributing every coincidence to Allah Almighty. We can tend to overly attribute both negative and positive events to Allah Almighty. Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra described the following 3 ways we misuse
- To save ourselves from embarrassment.
For example, if someone fails an exam, to cover his embarrassment he says that he was destined to fail this exam. Rather than attribute responsibility to himself, he attributes responsibility for his failure to Allah Almighty.
- To justify despair.
For example, if someone repeatedly fails at something, he hides the fact
that he has lost the courage to keep
trying, and justifies his despair by saying that
he is not destined to attain this objective.
- To hide our laziness.
For example, if someone is hoping for a promotion, rather than put in the extra work that is needed, he simply says that if he is destined to be promoted then it will eventually happen (Anwarul ‘Ulum, vol 4, p. 605–606, Taqdire Ilahi).
Also, we sometimes misuse
A mu‘jizah [miracle] is something that others are incapable of doing. Anyone can pass an exam, but an example of a miracle is when we are assured beforehand, whether through revelation or a feeling of certainty after prayers, that our prayer is accepted and we know that we will pass an exam. Otherwise, whether a success was specially from Allah Almighty or not is something we cannot be sure of.
The more we pray and the more our sincerity increases, the more we become familiar with the signs of acceptance of prayer. Constant striving in developing a relationship with Allah Almighty is necessary.