Salaam alaikum sister and thank you for your question.
You are certainly not alone in your feelings and struggles!
People lead such busy lives and so many things are constantly demanding our attention.
When it comes time to pray, it can be very challenging to clear our minds and focus on Allah, rather than our earthly lives.
It may even make us feel uncomfortable since it forces us to shut out all the distractions and only be in the company of Allah and ourselves.
Like any activity or skill, prayer is something that requires continuous practice and mindfulness so that one may get the most out of it.
Here are some suggestions that may make your prayers more fulfilling.
Preparations Before Prayer
Just as one may prepare for a meeting or a journey, it is important to make sure that we make the proper preparations for our prayer, which is a meeting with Allah.
Performing wudu is the basic pre-prayer activity, but we can also do other things that can improve our prayer experience.
Some people have a special set of clothing they wear during prayer.
Although any clothing that covers the awrah is acceptable for prayer, having a designated “prayer outfit” can help you get in the “prayer mindset”.
The location of where you will pray can also have an impact on your “prayer mindset”.
Choose a place that is quiet and calm, with as few distractions as possible.
If it’s a hot day, find somewhere cool, or somewhere warm if it’s cold.
If you have a usual prayer space, maybe try switching spots to make it less monotonous.
Make sure that any physical needs you have are taken care of before praying. There is a hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) where he said,
“You should not pray when food is ready or when resisting the urge to urinate or defecate” (Sahih Muslim).
Use the bathroom beforehand so that you’re not uncomfortable.
Unless you’re fasting, have something to eat and drink so that you’re not hungry or thirsty.
If you have spare time, you may want to do some additional worship before the prayer.
Sometimes it is not possible to make all these extra preparations, and that’s okay since wudu is the only required pre-prayer preparation.
If you are in a position to do these extra things, it may be worth trying.
Having Khushu in Prayer
Khushu can be described as a state of mindfulness and presence, where one is fully engaged in what they are doing.
In prayer, this means that a person is totally focused on the words they are saying and that they are worshipping Allah, the Most High.
There are many ways to develop good khushu.
Before beginning the prayer, make the intention to pray with as much sincerity and concentration as possible, and ask Allah to help you focus.
I have heard advice given to “pray as if it is one’s last prayer”; since we never know when death will come, we should treat each prayer seriously in case it is our last opportunity to offer our prayers.
During the prayer, take your time and try not to rush through it. Really think about the meaning of what you’re saying.
Pause between each verse of the Quran that you’re reciting and consider the message that Allah is conveying.
When you go down into sajdah (prostration), use the time to make silent prayers and glorification of Allah.
A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) says,
“The servant is nearest to their Lord when they prostrate, so increase your supplications then” (Sahih Muslim).
These supplications can help make your prayer feel more personal and less formulaic.
After the prayer is over, it is customary for people to recite dhikr or to make du’a.
This is your time to speak to Allah about whatever you want; Allah loves to hear from us!
Tiredness and Depression
If the prayer makes you feel physically tired, it is permissible for you to pray sitting down.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“Pray standing; if you cannot, then sitting; and if you cannot, then lying on your side” (Sahih Al-Bukhari).
I am concerned about you mentioning that you feel depressed after prayer.
Depression is a serious condition, but it can be treated with the help of a doctor or mental health professional.
I encourage you to seek medical help if you continue to feel symptoms of depression, whether related to prayer or in other things.
I hope this helps, and may Allah accept all your prayers and grant you the best in this life and the Hereafter, Ameen!
Salam and please keep in touch.
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