Allah says: “And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me, then surely I am near. I answer the prayers of the suppliants when they beseech Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 186]
Allah brings up this verse right in the middle of a long discussion about fasting. By bringing up supplications while speaking about the fast, He eloquently brings these two acts of worship together.
In this verse, Allah moves from addressing the believers in general about fasting to addressing the Prophet in particular, telling him to remind them of the devotion and sincerity they are supposed to cultivate through fasting, particularly that they should turn to Allah alone with their prayers and supplications.
Indeed , Allah is still addressing the believers in general. He does not say “Tell the believers I am near.” He replies to the question directly, saying “surely I am near.”
Then he goes on to explain what this nearness means, that He answers the supplications of those who beseech Him. This addresses the matter the Prophet’s Companions were concerned about. The question they had originally posed to him was: “Is Allah near so we should commune with Him or far away so we should call out to Him?”
Another aspect of Allah’s nearness is that He knows everything about us, what we profess openly as well as our deepest secrets. He says: “Verily, We created the human being and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.” [Sūrah Qāf: 16]
To offer supplications (du`ā’) to Allah is to beseech Him for everything that concerns us in this world and the Hereafter. In doing so, we profess our dependency on Allah, recognize that we need Him, and reveal that we possess no strength or might of our own. It is the clearest expression of sincere faith.
Prophet Muhammad said: “Allah is angry with those who do not ask of Him.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (3373)]
He also said: “Supplication is the greatest act of worship.” [Mustadrak al-Hākim (1/491)]
Significantly, he said: “Supplication is essentially what worship is.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (2969)]
In this way, the Prophet indicated that supplication is not just the best form of worship, but that it comprehends all other forms of worship. After making this statement, he recited the following verse of the Qur’an: “And your Lord said: Call upon me in supplication. I will answer you.” [Sūrah Ghāfir: 60]
He also said: “The stingiest of people are those who are stingy in greeting people with peace. The most incapable of all people are those who are incapable of beseeching Allah in supplication.” [Sahīh Ibn Hibbān (4498)]
He said: “Whenever any Muslim on Earth beseeches Allah in supplication, Allah will either give him what he asks for or remove from him an evil commensurate to what he asked for, as long as he does not ask for something sinful or ask to break ties of kinship.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (3573)]
The Prophet related to us that Allah says: “I am as My servant thinks of Me, and I am with him when he calls upon Me.” [Sahīh Muslim (2675)]