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 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 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 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 said: “Prayer with the congregation is twenty seven multiples better than praying alone.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
• Be keen to reach before the Imam utters the initial Allahu Akbar because the Prophet said: “Whosoever prays forty 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 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 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 .
• Perform the regular optional prayers at home because the Prophet 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 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 twenty-seven multiples of reward; or if he was inattentive during prayer, for a prayer without complete submission is like a body without a soul.