8 Ways to Improve your Prayer
Muslims are required to establish ritual prayers 5 times a day at specified times. Praying is a way to communicate, thank and remember Allah. However, many struggles with maintaining their prayers, completing them on time, or staying focused throughout. Here are some tips on how to improve your prayers.
Purity through Wudu
Ablution is required before prayer and it is a form of physical cleansing. However, you can also use it as a form of cleansing yourself; mentally and spiritually. When one is doing Wudu, they must make the intention that they are doing it to purify themselves, so that they can stand before Allah ﷻ and pray to Him. When we wash our face, including our mouth and eyes, we can think of it as a way of cleaning yourself from any sinful acts, that you may have said or seen. This concept can be similarly implemented when washing our hands and feet. Wiping our head can be a way of purifying yourself from immoral thoughts. This should be done with true intentions of improvements to our religion
Pray on Time
When one prays on time, this means that they have left all worldly affairs and dedicated this time to Allah ﷻ, as we all should. This also falls under purifying our souls and working on improving yourself. Never let your daily affairs interrupt your prayer.
Further, by praying on time, Allah ﷻ will provide you with blessings in everything you do thereafter. You will also feel at ease, as Allah ﷻ states in the Quran:
❝Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.❞Quran, 13:28
Contemplate what you’re Reciting
By making an effort to understand the verses that you are reciting, you will be able to form a deep connection with Allah ﷻ and His words in the Quran. Moreover, contemplating the words you say and the actions that you complete throughout your prayer allows you to maintain focus and remember your purpose in this life.
Pray in congregation
Praying in the congregation not only creates a sense of unity with those you pray with but also increases your rewards!
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
❝The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.❞Sahih Muslim
In congregational prayer, Muslims stand in rows and all distinctions are set aside. Race, social status, culture, and languages do not matter when you stand in front of Allah ﷻ, as nobility is only in terms of righteousness. Congregational prayer creates discipline, time-consciousness and a sense of direction. Further, meeting others sows seeds of friendship and engenders hope and courage for the Muslim Ummah.
Try to pray in a quiet place, where you know there will be no distractions. Distractions are not only on your phone or your business but can also be from your family and children!
Allah ﷻ warns us of this in the Quran, and speaks directly to the believers:
❝O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.❞Quran, 63:9
This is crucial, as far too often parents, especially mothers, will choose to attend to their children (in circumstances where the child can wait) before their prayers. This can lead them to either missing the prayer or praying it very late, which is not recommended.
Take your time
When you pray, take your time! Remember that Allah ﷻ is in control of the situation you might be rushing to. More importantly, remember that you are standing in front of the lord of the worlds! Relieve yourself of the stresses of your life and take comfort in your prayer.
Allah ﷻ warns us against those who pray without giving salah the attention and time it deserves:
❝So woe to those who pray [But] who are heedless of their prayer –❞
Follow the Sunnah
Frequently, we may neglect the teachings of our prophet and only complete the required, compulsory prayer. However, we must follow the Sunnah. This can be done by praying the voluntary prayers which will directly increase our rewards and further our connection with Allah ﷻ.
The following are some of the optional prayers we can complete before/after the compulsory ones:
- 2 rakahs before the obligatory Fajr prayer.
- The 4 rakahs before the obligatory Dhuhr prayer.
- 2 rakahs after the obligatory Dhuhr prayer.
- The 2 rakahs after the obligatory Maghrib prayer.
- 2 rakahs after the obligatory Isha prayer.
- Tahajjud or late night prayers ending with the Witr prayer.
- Ishraaq prayers after the sun has risen completely.
- The forenoon, duha prayer.
Moreover, after our prayer is completed, we can engage in thikr, the remembrance of Allah ﷻ .
The Prophet ﷺ said:
❝If anyone extols Allah after every prayer thirty-three times (says subhanAllah), and praises Allah thirty-three times (says Alhamdulillah), and declares His Greatness thirty-three times (says Allahu Akbar), ninety-nine times in all, and says to complete a hundred:” There is no god but Allah, having no partner with Him, to Him belongs sovereignty and to Him is praise due, and He is Potent over everything (says Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer),” his sins will be forgiven even If these are as abundant as the foam of the sea. ❞Sahih Muslim
Dua– Supplication to Allah ﷻ
Finally and most importantly, we must constantly make dua, supplications to God. We should continually ask Allah ﷻ to help us maintain our prayers on time, and stay focused throughout. This is a very powerful tool, that provides you direct access to converse with Allah ﷻ. If you need help, call upon Him. If you are facing hardships, call upon Him. If you are feeling blessed and content with your life, call upon Him and thank Him. No matter what your situation may be, big or small, always call upon Allah ﷻ and ask Him for help. Start by thanking Him for your blessings by saying alhamdulillah, then invoke blessings upon Muhammad ﷺ, then begin with your dua!
Allah ﷻ states in the Quran:
❝So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.❞
May Allah ﷻ make it easy for us to maintain our prayers on time & stay focused throughout.