The gemora in Brochos (4:b) asks “who is a person who will get Olam Haba?” and answers “the one who is somech geula l’tefillah.” Rabbeinu Yona is puzzled how could it be for such a relatively small procedure—just to place the tefillah next to the geula—a person can receive a portion in The World To Come. There are a few answers offered to explain this.
At first Rabbeinu Yonah explains that a person who realizes that he was freed through the grace of Hashem sincerely recognizes that he owes his life to Hashem, and is therefore his servant, with that perspective he can achieve Olam Haba.
The next answer (in the name of his Rebbe) which he gives is after he mentions Hashem’s unbelievable power that he split the sea and all the wondrous miracles that happened with that event, through their bitachon in Hashem, they were answered. The mispallel too, by showing his bitachon in Hashem, is confident that his prayers will be answered.
I heard once a different approach to answer this question which I would like to share. The Mabit in Beis Elokim explains that a person who prays to Hashem before tragedy strikes –in a sense—it is easier for him to annul the disaster slated for him. But once the person finds himself in that disastrous plight, then only teshuva shelayma will help.
Let us take this idea one step further: Why is a person praying after the geula has already happened? The answer is that that Tefillah which is borne out of feeling relieved has an aspect of rejoicing in our relationship with Hashem l’shabayach ulehodos—a prayer borne out of such ecstasy brings a person not only to have his Tefillah answered, but to be a ben olam haba, just as the Mabit explains: Tefillah before disaster is more powerful than Tefillah during a disaster because it expresses an understanding of Hashem’s role in the world. I would like to add that the prayer of a person who davens after being rescued from a disaster is at an even higher level than either of these. This is because the person is focused on nothing more than his relationship with Hashem.
As we read the Shira (this is the geula that we read about before our tefillos during Shacharis and Maariv) we have a special obligation according to all these explanations to be strengthened in our bitachon in and relationship with Hashem and this will not only help us to have our prayers answered, but it will make the reading of the Torah that much more meaningful.
May we merit to go from our geula to the ultimate geula.