Prayer is an essential and central part of our everyday life as Muslims.
We pray five times a day. 35 times a week, and around 1,825 times a year. How can we make the most out of this precious gift Allah has given to us? How can we truly feel connected to Allah, the most Merciful? And how can we go beyond the mere movements and be present with our hearts and feel the pleasure that comes with this connection?
What Does Sweetness of Prayer Mean?
One way we can understand ‘sweetness of prayer’ is through the Arabic word khushu. It is mentioned in the Quran as a sign of a successful believer to have khushu in his/ her prayer (Quran 23: 2).
Khushu means to have full concentration in prayer, humbly focusing only on Allah, being humble or submissively humble in prayer. It is this feeling that perfects our prayer and that really connects us to our Creator. It means that we will try to forget everything about this world and focus only on Allah.
If we succeed in carrying out such a prayer, we will feel refreshed. Our spiritual batteries will be re-charged. We will feel filled with spiritual light that illuminates our actions, words, and thoughts. And, inshaAllah, we will belong to the successful ones.
How Can We Achieve the Sweetness of Prayer?
To achieve the sweetness of prayer is not impossible. However, it might need some time. It might happen only once in a while and it might need some work. For some people, it might just come natural. However, all of us should make a serious effort to feel khushu, sweetness, of and in prayer. Here are a few practical tips to come closer to our goal of finding sweetness of prayer:
1- Create the Right Atmosphere
Whenever you can, give your prayer the attention it deserves. If you pray at home, prepare your room for prayer.
After all, you will be standing in front of your Creator. Make sure your room is neat and clean. Add some nice fragrance. Have you own prayer niche that you decorate in a beautiful and pleasant way. You can put calligraphies there. Have some prayer beads. Have your favorite scent. Your Quran should be there as well.
Make this space your mosque in your home. You will see that it makes a huge difference to pray in such a space instead of just praying in the middle of the living room. If you pray the obligatory prayers in congregation in the mosque, make sure that you keep some sunnah, extra, prayers to perform at home.
2. Have Your Special Prayer Clothes
Similar to creating your prayer space, you should have your special prayer clothes. Wearing these clothes after ablution will help you get in the right mode. Your focus will automatically be directed towards prayer and towards meeting your Lord in prayer.
I usually use a white prayer gown from Indonesia with some delicate embroideries. One of my teachers from Indonesia once explained to me why she likes to wear the white prayer gown.
She said that the white reminds her of death because we will be shrouded in white sheets after our soul has left our body. And, according to her, white is also one of the colors of paradise. So, she wants to be reminded of both death and paradise during her prayer. I found that a beautiful explanation.
3. Have the Proper Prayer Mat
This point might be irrelevant to some of you. But for those who get easily distracted by visual forms, it is essential. Choose a prayer mat that does not distract you.
My favorite prayer mat is a simple, plain brown-golden mat without any ornaments or visual elements. There is nothing that can distract my eyes wandering and my mind wondering what the forms on the carpet might resemble.
4. Have Some Quiet Time Before Prayer
Several years back, I was invited to talk about my conversion story to a group of ladies. During the Q&A session, one lady took me by surprise with her question. She asked me how to improve concentration in prayer. She explained that she always thinks of other things during her prayer.
I was not prepared for these kind of questions and had only recently started to learn more about coming closer to Allah.
However, Allah inspired me to ask her what she would do before her prayer. And she answered that she usually watches TV before praying.
By answering my question, she answered her own question: “Oh… now I understand. Watching TV before prayer is what distracts me from focusing on Allah.”
It is not just watching TV. But our constant, immediate availability online through our phones is a huge distraction. If possible, we need to try to have some quiet time, some off-line time before meeting our most merciful Creator.
5. Remember Allah Outside of Prayer
I would like to share one last point that it is absolutely essential that we remember Allah outside of our prayer also. We need to remember Him as much as possible. Reading Quran. Doing dhikr. Pondering about Allah’s signs in creation. Learning Islamic knowledge. Be in the company of pious believers.
Try to remember Allah as much as possible because Allah mentions in His holy Quran (3:191) those who remember Him standing and sitting, and lying on their sides.
May He make us of those who remember Him at all times and may He make all of us of the righteous.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive)