The Muslim Handbook
By: Dr. Mubarak Ali
RECOMMENDED DU'A (SUPPLICATIONS)
5.6 THREE WAYS IN WHICH SUPPLICATIONS ARE ACCEPTED
It is an imperative condition that a Muslim supplicates for something lawful and just. The Shari’ah does not permit the supplicant to pray for bad or sinful things. Fulfilling these additional conditions, his supplications may be answered in one of the three ways, as Allah see fit. That is to say, that a supplication is always heard but it may not in every instance always result in the attainment of the specific object being prayed for. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
Any Muslim who makes a supplication containing nothing that is sinful and nothing that involves breaking ties of blood relationships, will be given for it by Allah one of three things:  He may accept his request, or  assign its reward for him in the next world, or  turn away from him an equivalent amount of evil (Abu Sa’id in Ahmad).
The same Hadith confirms that when the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) heard this guarantee, they said; “We would then make many supplications” at which the Prophet (pbuh) replied: “Allah is more than ready to answer what you ask.” Thus, at no time the supplicant is a looser nor is any lawful supplication wasted, as his supplication is answered in one form or another and at a time best determined by Allah.
(To Be Continued)