It is obvious to everyone that prayer has a greater rank in Islam than any other act of worship, and it is the second pillar of Islam after bearing witness to the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
Prayer is the foundation of religion. A person’s share in his religion depends on his attachment to his prayers.
It was the foundation of all religions before Islam. Allah required all the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them) to proclaim it to their Ummahs and to pay attention to it.
There are many virtues and greatness of prayer.
First, prayer should be regarded as an obligation and an important act of worship, not a daily habit.
If you are doing it as a habit, be careful and examine yourself because the prayer must be reflected in your actions and behaviour.
Secondly: Prayer is the foundation of religion.
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“The head of all commandments is Islam, and its pillar is prayer, and its pillar is expedition.” That is, it is the sustainer of all other good deeds and worships.
Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said
“Good news for those who go to the mosque in congregation in darkness, for them there is light.”
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, prayer is the greatest act of worship that supports all other acts of worship.
Thirdly, Prayer raises the rank of the believer
“There is no believing servant who prostrates himself to Allah except that Allah will write down for him good and erase his evil and exalt him in rank.
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to appreciate that the purpose of our life is to worship Allah SWT and that the eternal abode we will go to will be judged on how well we do this. Our rank for eternity is determined by acts of worship such as salat and therefore the day ought to pivot around this fact of life and not the other way around where life determines whether or not we make it for prayer.
Next the Prayer calms the heart and mind
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say: “O Bilaal, get up and call to prayer and calm our hearts and minds with the call.”
Dear brothers and sisters, who doesn’t want to have peace of mind in times of hardship or difficulty. We need to understand that the power of prayer isn’t just limited to what we can achieve in the life after death but that the power of prayer is also in the life we are currently living.
Prayer holds that power in that it can bring you peace and tranquility in this life and it can also benefit you in this life as well as bring you success when you return to Allah SWT.
Finally, the imam mentioned the following hadith which is translated to say:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: The first question that will be asked of the servants on the Day of Resurrection is their deeds of prayer If he has a defect, then Allah will say to the angels: Look and see if he has a Sunnah prayer to perform for him in addition to the obligatory prayers. Saheeh al-Jaami’ (2020).
This reminder concludes with 4 practical tips we can all take away to help us in prayer.
- Preparation. Give yourself 60-90 seconds before the start of each prayer to flush all your thoughts out of your head. Whether this is about work, wife, kids or something else, your brain is one of those things which betrays you in prayer so get into the habit of leaving no thought outstanding before prayer begins.
- Visualisation. Always try to remind yourself that you are standing in front of Allah SWT. Another way to look at this is, if you are standing in front of your boss or your teacher then you don’t fidget, yawn or mindlessly think of anything else but the meeting you are having. You give that person the respect because they are a position of authority over you. The same applies here. You are stood in front of your Creator, the Creator of everything you know and He can see you at that very moment and is aware of your Salah. Use that knowledge to maintain etiquette and focus as you recite in front of Him.
- Persistence. During the salat, you are in a constant battle with your mind to remain focused on what you are doing. It is the role of Shaitaan to distract you away from this focus so counteract this by doing things that keep your focus. One example is staring on the ground in the same square inch roughly where your head touches when you are in sujood. Don’t close the eyes or let them wander onto what coloured socks the brother next to you is wearing. Another is learning the word-for-word meaning of Sura Fatihah and at a minimum the couple of ayats you read after Sura Fatihah so that when you read each and every word, you can hear it’s meaning in your head and again visualise what you are saying to your Lord.
- And lastly, you should pace your recitation, it’s not a race to the finish and by the way the difference between the fastest recitation of salat and the normal-paced, pleasant and focused recitation is only a minute or two, surely your time isn’t that precious outside of your meeting with Allah SWT that you can’t spare that extra minute to recite with a good pace and focus?