As I read this beautifully written post by Br. Tariq, I was instantly reminded of a beautiful parable I heard a while back.
When Iblis rejected Allah's command to bow down to Adam causing Allah to curse him, Iblis responded with a bloodcurdling promise:
"Then will I assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies)." (7:17)
This caused the angels to become so distressed that Allah (swt) asked them about their apprehension.
"Ya Allah, we fear for the fate of man. Iblis has made it his life's mission to destroy man and we fear that man will not stand a chance. Iblis has been given the power to enter into the mind of man. He has been given the power of invisibility enabling him to ambush at will. He will attack from all four directions. Ya Allah, what will ever save Adam and his progeny from such a formidable enemy?"
Allah the Most Wise, the Most Merciful answered, "Indeed the accursed Shaytan made his promise and We granted him respite until the Day of Judgment. And it is true that he vowed to attack from the front, back, right, and left of man. However, Iblis failed to consider the other two directions, up and down, which We have expressly granted to the son of Adam as means of protection.
So when man sincerely raises his hands towards the sky and asks of Me, I will not allow him to lower his hands until I have granted his request.
And when man humbly lowers his head down in prostration to Me, I will not allow him to raise his head until I have granted his request."
Thus Allah responded to Iblis:
"As for My servants, no authority shalt thou have over them:" Enough is your Lord as a Protector. (17:65)
And so Allah has granted us the dua'a (by raising our hands and bowing our heads) so as to always give us hope in His infinite Mercy:
Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (39:53)