When you hear the Athaan (call to Prayer), let that remind you of the horrors of the Summons on the Day of Resurrection. Spare no time in fully preparing yourself to respond. For those who hasten to answer this call are the ones who will receive gentle summoning on the Day of the Great Review. So review your hearts now; if you find it elated and eager to respond, you can expect the Summons to bring you glad tidings on the Day of Judgment. That is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to address Bilal, may Allaah be pleased with him, saying: “Delight us by the Prayer, O Bilal!”
When you perform ritual cleansing (Wudhoo’ or Ghusl), make sure to also tend to the cleanliness of your inner being, which lies at the heart of all these. In cleaning your inner being, use in the place of water repentance and remorse for your excesses, and a resolve not to perpetrate them in the future. Thus you should cleanse your inner being, for that is the place where your Lord will be looking.
Covering private parts
When in Prayer you make sure that certain parts of your body are covered from the eyes of other humans. But you should also mind your internal shameful spots, those unworthy secrets of your soul that are beheld only by Allaah Almighty. Beware these faults and realize that nothing will escape the sight of Allaah Almighty.
Facing the Qiblah
In this you turn your face away from all other directions and set it toward the Ka’bah. But more important than that is to turn your heart away from everything else other than Allaah Almighty, directing it towards Allaah Almighty. This is the whole point of the practice!
This means holding oneself erect—in body and in spirit—in the presence of Allaah Almighty. Your head which is the highest part of your body should be bowed down as a reminder of the need to keep the heart meek and humble, free of arrogance and pride.
When forming the intention, resolve to be responsive to Allaah Almighty by performing the Prayer in full conformity with His commands, by doing it properly, by avoiding things that invalidate or detract from its wholeness, and by doing all this for the sake of Allaah alone, hoping for His reward and fearing His punishment, seeking His grace and favor by His leave.
When making Takbeer (pronouncing the phrase: Allaahu Akbar to begin the Prayer acts), your heart must be inundated with the meaning of Takbeer. You should feel in your heart that nothing whatsoever is greater than Allaah Almighty.
Reciting the Quran
People fall in three categories when it comes to Quran recitation: (a) those who move their tongues unconsciously (b) those who are conscious of the movement of the tongue, understanding the meaning while listening as if to a person outside themselves; this is the degree of `those on the right’, (c) those who start from awareness of the meaning, then use the tongue to give expression to this inner consciousness.
Bowing (Rukoo’) indicates a renewed affirmation of the supreme greatness of Allaah Almighty. In bowing you confirm your submissiveness and humility, striving to refine your inner feelings through a fresh awareness of your own impotence and insignificance before the might and grandeur of your Lord Almighty. To confirm this, you seek the aid of your tongue, glorifying Allaah Almighty and testifying repeatedly to His Supreme Majesty. Then you rise from bowing, hopeful that He will be merciful towards you. To emphasize this hope within you, you say: “Allaah hears those who give thanks to Him.” Acknowledging the need to express gratitude, you immediately add: “Grateful praise to You our Lord!”
Then you go down in prostration. This is the utmost point of submission, for when you prostrate you bring the noblest part of your body—your face—down to meet the most lowly of all things, the dust of the earth. When you place yourself in this position of lowliness, be mindful of the fact that you belong there, from dust you were created and to dust you shall return. At the same time you should renew your inner awareness of Allaah’s majesty, repeating: “Glory to my Lord Most High!”
Sitting and testifying
When you sit to make the testimony (Tashahhud), sit decorously. Declare that all the Prayers and good deeds you perform are for the sake of Allaah Almighty, and everything belongs to Him. Such is the meaning of at-Tahiyyaat. Be inwardly aware of the Prophet, and of his noble person, as you say: “Peace be upon you, O Prophet, as well as Allaah’s mercy and blessing.” Be sure that he will return an even more perfect greeting to you. Then salute yourself and all Allaah’s righteous servants. Then testify to the Unity of Allaah Almighty, and to the mission of Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam.
End of Supplication
Make sure to supplicate at the end of your ritual Prayer and before Tasleem, imploring and entreating with meekness and humility, confidently hoping to be answered. Let your supplication include your parents and the other believers.
Finally, and with the intention of concluding your Prayer, address your Tasleem to the angels and the others present. Feel a sense of gratitude to Allaah Almighty for having enabled you to complete this act of worship. Imagine that you are saying farewell to this Prayer of yours, and that you may not live to make another one.