Asalaamu alaikum (peace be upon you) brother. :)
I think that reflecting on yourself is something which is praised, i usually reflect on myself also to look at my personality, my attitude, the state of my heart, am i benefiting others? Am i being a good person? Or have i done more evil in my life than good? How can i make myself more positive? How can i remove the arrogance from my heart which may creep up every now and then? How can i draw closer to Allaah by doing this?
Allaah says in the Qur'an:
Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allah created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
[Qur'an 30: 8]
When i reflect upon myself, i feel that it has to be done for a purpose. This good which we do has to have a greater aim to it. Don't you feel good when you help a poor person? Someone in need? And don't you feel bad when you harm someone?
I look at how Allaah has given us wealth, He has given us the health to be able to earn it in the first place. Then i wonder, if i've got more than i need - shouldn't this really be used to benefit others? For instance, i've got some wealth, - i spend it on the things required. Then one may keep a certain amount for future purposes, and the remaining can be given to someone in need. Yes it's for the good, but doesn't Allaah recognise our good? If we do good for His sake, shouldn't our reward actually be from Him?
Allaah gives good to whomever He wills, i remember watching MTV Cribs a long while back, and i imagined - if Allaah gives the world to whomever He wills, even if that person doesn't even do much i.e. he's just a rapper/singer. Then wouldn't Allaah have a greater reward in store for one who does believe in Allaah's promise, and does good to earn His pleasure in order to get His reward?
Those who belie Allaah's promise, and don't do good for Allaah's pleasure, and they don't believe in His reward. Then Allaah doesn't need to give them that reward, since belief aswell as good action proves that one really wants that reward from Allaah. Whereas those who disbelieve, then why should Allaah reward them in the hereafter if they reject it? So instead - Allaah will give them good in this life, maybe they will die being a well known famous figure, or a wealthy person, or having an easier life. But should they really be rewarded in the hereafter if they rejected it, or claimed that Allaah lied?
When you say that people are different in many ways, that is totally true. We all have good and bad within us. Yet these can either draw us closer to Allaah, or they can distance us from Allaah.
I.e. Allaah may have given someone wealth, now wealth in of itself isn't evil. Yet what the person spends it on will be the outcome. Someone may spend it on harming innocents for example, or the person may use the wealth to help those who are in need. Depending on what the wealth is used for, along with the intention - the person will get the respective good (i.e. more reward from Allaah) from it or evil (His displeasure.)
We as Muslims believe that this life is temporary, we are created by Allaah, and yes - we are created to worship Him. But wait, worship doesn't just mean to continuously pray, fast, etc. Worship in the Islamic context is anything which is loved by Allaah. So for example, if a guy gives food to his wife, he is fulfilling a duty which is loved by Allaah. Since you intended to draw closer to Allaah by feeding your wife, then that is an act of worship in of itself. Therefore, you would gain Allaah's pleasure, therefore be rewarded by Him inshaa Allaah (God willing.)
Similarly, all aspects of our life can be a means of drawing closer to our Creator, and Sustainer.
Along with these acts of worship, we are also obligated to thank Allaah for the good which He has bestowed upon us. We are obligated to worship Allaah (which includes the 5 daily prayers) - so that we remain firm upon the correct path. During each prayer, we recite to Allaah - "Guide us to the Straight Path..
" - if one stops praying to Allaah, they usually break their contact with Him due to the excessive distractions of this life. Therefore an obligation makes the believer firm upon keeping their duty to Allaah so they remain upon the correct straight path which leads to Him (The Siraat Al Mustaqeem.)
Therefore, if one asks why Allaah asks us to worship Him - the answer is so we remain aware of God, so we continue doing good to please Him and earn His pleasure, so we abstain from the evil which He has forbidden us from - which is harm in of itself, and that is why it is forbidden.
Islaam is the religion of ALL the Prophets of Allaah, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus son of Mary, Muhammad (peace be upon them) and all the 124,000 Prophets of God. They all called to the worship of Allaah, our Creator and Sustainer Alone. And it was sent to unite mankind on where they differed, so they could live together in peace and kindness with no injustice upon anyone.
You may question why you have parents, parents which you never personally chose. But the main thing is - Allaah has made us all under different situations, different circumstances, and we are all tried/trialled under different ways.
Some are trialled through excessive wealth (will they remain good/sincere/obedient to Allaah with all this power in their hands? or will they abuse it and fall into evil?) Allaah also tests people under poverty, will they remain steadfast? Allaah tries all of us in different ways, and He is the All-Knowing, He never overburdens a soul with what it cannot bear. And without a doubt, after hardship He grants ease. These trials can either raise someone high in Allaah's sight, or they can make someone the lowest of the low - if they were to follow their vain/false desires, and channel them in an impermissible way.
Regarding your question about your prayers not always being answered, Allaah says in the Qur'an:
..it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.
[Qur'an 2: 216]
We are bound by time, we do not know the future. We are stuck in the present, yet Allaah is the All Knowing, Wise and He is outside the boundaries of time. Therefore, He may not answer a prayer of ours, knowing that it is harmful for us in the future. And He may delay it, knowing that in the future there is more of a greater benefit to it.
This may be the answer to why your prayer is responded to at one time, yet not responded to immediately within another time.
I hope i've answered some of your questions and given you a more wider outlook to your points. :) It's been an interesting discussion. And i pray that it is of benefit to you. Ameen.
And Allaah Almighty knows best.