I converted to Islam, then I learned better about the Muslim way of praying. I had no idea how prescribed it would be. I didn’t grow up with any formal prayer, and imagined that five times a day I would do something similar to the kind of thing you see Christians doing on TV: kneeling at their bedside, imploring God for this or that.
And on top of the very specific movements I would have to learn and the words in the language I didn’t know, I would also have to wash up in a very specific way (cleaning off my makeup and moisturizer) five times a day!
Also, getting up in the middle of the night (as it was in summer) to pray Fajr was not inspiring at all. I gave up before I even tried.
Not praying was nagging at me for a couple of years. I had remained busy with work during that time, and quickly got even busier with work and a new baby. It felt like it was getting harder and harder to find the time to learn how to pray.
Then, as they often do mobilize people, a catastrophe occurred in my life. My regular old way of pray-talking to Allah didn’t feel like enough to get me through this time. I was finally inspired to learn how to pray.
I learned how to make wudu’. Watching videos, following illustrations and reading detailed accounts, I pieced together exactly how to make wudu’.
I am a researcher by nature, so I needed several sources to really feel that I understood the ritual. Making wudu’ was actually easy enough, it was just still intimidating to consider breaking away from all my other duties and doing it five times a day, and like I said my makeup may have to be reapplied and moisturizer definitely would. Ugh the cost of increasing my moisturizer supply alone! But at least I finally learned how to make wudu’.
I had a plan. You know this concept that it takes XX days to practice at something before it can be a habit? And also the idea of incorporating little changes over time to slowly make a big change? I decided to do a hybrid sort of practice of those two things. Instead of taking all five prayers on at once, I would incorporate the prayers into my life one by one.
I started with Fajr, but not at it’s regular scheduled time, rather I got up a little earlier than usual, made wudu’ and prayed. After a week of this I started praying Zhuhr on time.
The plan was to add a prayer each week. So after a week of praying delayed Fajr and |huhr on time, I added ‘Asr. Within a few days I added Mahgrib and didn’t make it to week five before praying ‘Isha’ in it’s time too. Then I took the next difficult step and began getting up on time for Fajr. Alhumdulillah, I have been praying for many years even since.
How did I do?
Frankly, I haven’t met anyone who has learned to pray using this method, but then again there is a lot of shame around not jumping right in and just doing it. People don’t really talk much about how they learned to pray. So maybe this is a pretty regular way to to do it. Maybe it will work for you.
Please share with us your story or challenges of maintaining your prayers.
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