Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra explained that to spiritually progress, we should continuously study our heart and see if there are more good motivations or evil motivations. If there are more good motivations, then know that angels are moving us towards Allah. Rather than looking at our actions, we should look at the condition of our heart and what motivations and urges are found therein. If we observe prayers, fast, and give Zakat, but our heart is averse to it, then know that we are either in a preliminary stage of striving, or our
To understand this concept more easily, take school for example. One purpose of school is that we learn a subject so we can apply our knowledge in the real world. But some students just memorize information for the test, and although they get an A, they forget everything immediately after. They may have the best GPA, but they retain very little knowledge and end up failing in the real world. A person who gets worse grades than them but at least understands what little he learned is a better student than the straight-A student who knows everything but understands nothing.
Another purpose of school is that we create a passion for knowledge. But some students study only for tests, and although they get good grades, as soon as exams are over, they never touch a book. School only increases their aversion to studying, and they plan never to study again once they are free of school. A person who gets worse grades than them but at least is developing a love for studying is a better student than the honor roll student who finishes school more averse to studying than when he started.
Sometimes we give examples of students who earned straight-A’s but failed in the real world, and examples of students who barely passed school but were very successful in their fields. This does not mean that school is pointless, but these examples remind us that academic accomplishments alone do not make us successful. Someone who misses the point of school is not a good student no matter how good his grades are and what degree he has.
Similarly, the Holy Prophet
Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra explained that if we wish to know our grades in the sight of Allah, we should look within ourselves. If our love for Allah and our enthusiasm to strive in His path is increasing, then we are on the right path, even if our actions are not currently on the level we would like.
Also, try observing the following prayer. The Promised Messiah as explained that in the initial stages of prayer:
Just as one eats bitter medicine for his health, similarly it is necessary to observe that tasteless namaz and prayer. In this state of tastelessness, assuming that from it a pleasure and interest will be created, one should pray, “O Allah, you see me, how blind and sightless I am, and at this time I am in a state of complete lifelessness. I know that after a little while I will be called and I will come towards you. At that time, no one will be able to stop me. But my heart is blind and ignorant; cause such a flame of light to descend upon it that love and enthusiasm for you be born in it. Bless me in such a way that I not be raised blind and that I not be gathered with the sightless.” When he observes this type of prayer and is consistent in it, he will see that a time will come when, in the same tasteless namaz, something from the heavens will fall upon him that will create emotion.(Tafsir Hadrat Masih Mau‘ud, vol. 2, p. 49)
When feeling spiritually down, try observing this prayer.