Tips on improving your prayers
July 10 2020 01:12 AM

The following is some advice to help you preserve and safeguard your prayer, and perform it in a proper manner, which makes it more likely to be accepted,
* Perform Wudhoo’ (ablution) properly because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), said: “Allah made compulsory upon Himself to admit into Paradise any Muslim who properly performed Wudhoo’, then prays two Rak’ah with attentiveness and submissiveness.” [Muslim].
* Leave your house in the state of Wudhoo’ because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The one who leaves his house in a state of Wudhoo’ to perform an obligatory prayer will get the reward of pilgrimage.” [Ahmad].
* Be keen to perform it as soon as its time is due because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The best of deeds is performing prayer on its due time” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
* Be keen to perform it with the congregation because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Prayer with the congregation is 27 multiples better than praying alone.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
* Be keen to reach before the Imam utters the initial Allahu Akbar because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whosoever prays 40 days with the congregation, attending the initial (Allahu Akbar) of the prayer, will be free of two things: Hell Fire and hypocrisy.” [Ahmad]
* Be keen to walk to the mosque because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Give glad tidings to those who walk to the mosque during dark with complete light on the Day of Resurrection.” [Abu Dawood and At-Tirmithi]
* Be attentive with your heart while performing prayer.
* Wait in the mosque for the next prayer as often as you can because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said when he mentioned the seven whom Allah The Almighty will protect under the shade of His throne: “A man whose heart is attached to mosques.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
* Learn the rulings of prayer and the Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
* Perform the regular optional prayers at home because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The best prayer is the one performed at home except the obligatory prayer.” [At-Tabarani]
* Beware of staying up late at night because you are likely to miss the Fajr prayer.
* Beware of eating, drinking and laughing too much, because this makes performing prayer heavier on the heart.
* Set your alarm for Fajr or get someone to call you to wake up for prayer.
* Ponder upon the verses recited during the prayer.
* Read about the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and their ambition and keenness to guard prayer.
* Think about the glory of Allah The Almighty before you start praying.
* Always say the recommended supplications and remembrance after prayers, and do not leave the mosque before finishing them.
Ibn Al-Qayyim may Allah have mercy upon him said:
“There are five ranks of people in relation to prayer,
First, is he who transgresses against himself by neglecting parts of Wudhoo’, its timings and some of its conditions; and he will be punished.
Second, is he who maintains its timings and conditions, but his mind is occupied during prayer; and he will be questioned.
Third, is he who maintains its timings and conditions and all its rights and struggles against himself not to become busy thinking of something else; so he is in a state of Jihad while praying; and he will forgiven.
Fourth, is he whose heart is fully consumed by praying during his prayer, and his main concern is establishing it properly and perfectly, and he is in a state of servitude to his Lord; and he will be rewarded.
Fifth, is he who does as the fourth, but in addition he sets his heart in the Hands of his Lord, watchful of his Lord, glorifying and honoring Him as if he can see his Lord; his mind is concentrated on praying; and this type is far higher than any other rank; and he is close to his Lord and will have the pleasure of being close to his Lord in the Hereafter.”
Which one of these five ranks do you fit in? Hold yourself accountable and weigh it according to your performance of prayer, because it is an accurate scale.
Ways to glorify the status of prayer:
1. Perform it on time.
2. Perfect its conditions and compulsory acts.
3. Rush to perform it.
4. Feel sorrow if any portion was performed improperly, like the one who becomes saddened for not performing it with the congregation because he missed out on the 27 multiples of reward; or if he was inattentive during prayer, for a prayer without complete submission is like a body without a soul.
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Maintaining discipline in worship
Abdullah would rise before Fajr (dawn) each morning and rush to the mosque to offer the prayer. He would return to the mosque for Maghrib (sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (evening) prayers as well. He read the Qur’an daily. He studied other Islamic books in his spare time. He spent much of his free time with his family and took his role as the spiritual leader in his home quite seriously.
Five years later, he found that he would go days, sometimes a whole week without performing a single prayer. He no longer attends congregational prayer at the mosque — he didn’t have time with his new job. This new job involved his working closely in establishments with people of questionable backgrounds. This resulted in his becoming very secretive about many of his work activities; he didn’t even talk to his wife about them because he knew she would disapprove. Work kept him busy all night and throughout the entire weekend. Many of his new friends also worked with him and he began to spend a great deal of his free time with them. Because of this, he spent less time with his family. He had to sleep during the day in order to be able to work each night.
His wife noticed a great change in his demeanour. They had several discussions about his work and how it was affecting him and his relationship with Allah Almighty. He agreed, and would begin the process of searching for new work, but inevitably, chose to stay in his current job. He soon found himself feeling very distanced from his wife and children. Even though the money was abundant when he first began, it was now barely paying the bills.
He felt his marriage crumbling beneath the years of neglect. He found himself succumbing to depression over his circumstances, unmotivated to initiate the things he knew he would have to do in order for his life to change.
It is interesting to note that Abdullah’s life seemed much more peaceful and balanced when he engaged in his regular religious duties, and began to suffer significantly when he abandoned them.
Could this simply be a coincidence? An imam accurately sums up situations like this stating: “The regulation of a man’s conduct within one system of life is one of the most important reasons of success and stability. The absence of this regulation is one of the greatest crises a man suffers from in his life. This happens when man is left without guidance from Allah, The Most High, or without proper upbringing based on the Divine Guidance. Under these circumstances, man’s life becomes miserable on this earth and he will be amongst the losers in the Hereafter”.
A religion of discipline
It is only from the infinite wisdom and mercy of Allah that we have been given a system of belief that instructs and assists in guiding our actions and behaviour. By participating in the daily obligations of our faith outlined in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), we are more likely to enjoy Allah’s bounty in this life, and reap the rewards in the Hereafter. Allah Almighty ordered all believers to be disciplined in their worship, and not to disobey Him. In the Qur’an, Allah Says (what means) “So remain on a right course as you have been commanded, [you] and those who have turned back with you [to Allah], and do not transgress. Indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.” [Qur’an 11: 112]
The intensity of our faith changes throughout our lives. There are times when we are of strong faith, and times when we struggle. Many brothers and sisters who proudly claim Islam as their religion unintentionally find themselves “slipping” in their religious duties. Seemingly overnight their lives go from pleasurable and carefree to darkness and confusion. You may begin to acknowledge that you have landed in such a state because of the choices you made, but you are lost as to how to go about changing things.
Being steadfast in our duties to Allah Almighty is what keeps you from languishing during your darker moments. Remember that your ultimate return is to Him Almighty, so you must develop discipline and a consistency in your daily routine to keep your faith from sinking.
Developing discipline
Recognising your shortcomings is the first step towards becoming more disciplined. Allah Almighty Says (what means): “…Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves...” [Qur’an 13: 11]
When you decide to change for the sake of Allah Almighty, Allah will help you change. Each one is responsible for oneself and will be questioned accordingly on the Day of Judgment, with no one to intercede on your behalf. You must make the choice to live your life according to Allah’s Will on your own. You will not benefit from being told about what you need to do and how you need to change in order to have a more fulfilling life. You must take an interest in making those changes for yourself. Only then can you reap the rewards. Think about the wives of the Prophets Noah and Lut, may Allah exalt their mention. Each Prophet, may Allah exalt his mention, tried unsuccessfully to offer the best guidance to his wife, but because there was no real interest on their part, it was said to each of women (what means): “…Enter the Fire with those who enter!” [Qur’an 66: 10]
There are many things you can do to establish discipline in your daily life. Such consistency not only balances our faith, but all other aspects of our lives as well: 
* Evaluate yourself regularly to make certain you are doing all that you can spiritually.
* Perform your daily prayers punctually each day.
* Read the Qur’an regularly, with an effort to truly understand what you are reading.
* Seek knowledge regularly, religious and other, through books, classes and lectures, etc.
* Keep company with righteous people.
* Have confidence in your faith and, more importantly, in Allah Almighty.
* Regularly spend some time alone in contemplation and worship.
Islam is a complete way of life. As believers, we should desire the discipline that allows us to regulate our lives and keep chaos away. In choosing this way of life, peace and contentment are your right. Discipline comes as a result of performing certain duties consistently. Ask Allah to help you to establish discipline in your religious commitment and to be able to submit to all that pleases Him Almighty.
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