- Fulfill all your personal needs before you commence your Prayer, for e.g., thirst, hunger and calls of nature.
- Pray in a pure physical state. Perform your wudu with care and perfection.
- Although the whole earth is a masjid or a place of worship, choose a place that is clean.
- Pray in an environment free of noise and one where there is no distraction.
- Adorn yourself with clean and respectable clothes.
- Assess your mental readiness for Prayer before its commencement, during the various postures, after each raka and ultimately at the end.
- Pray with humility both in your mental state and in your physical manner. Pray with hope and awe.
- Remind yourself continually that you are talking to the most important 'One' in your life - your Creator and Sustainer. He is in front of you. You are facing Him and you are involved in a dialogue with Him.
- Commence your Prayer by seeking Allah's help and protection from the influences of Shaytan.
- Lower your gaze while praying and do not allow the physical environment to distract you. Anas related that the Prophet said: "My dear son, be sure to avoid being distracted during Prayer, for, to greater concentration and awareness.
- Adopt a whispering technique in your recitation in order to remain focused on what you are saying, and not distract others.
- As you recite the Quran, translate it into your own language so that your attention is held. As you ponder upon the meaning and implications of the words, insha-Allah, all worldly thoughts will disappear.
- On each occasion that you recite the Sifat or attributes of Allah in ruku and sajda, consider how indebted you are and how grateful you should be to Allah and express your true emotions.
- Utilize the occasion of sajda to make additional dua to Allah. The Prophet said: "A servant is nearest to his Lord when he is in sajda, so increase your supplication when in sajda." (Muslim.)
- Make your Prayer of moderate duration so that you do not become physically and mentally tired but be aware that while in Prayer you must take your time praying.
- Give due regard to the proper performance of all the physical postures. Do not 'peck like a crow' when doing rukus and sajdas as every posture in Salah, even the rests, are important.
- Pray as if it is your last Prayer. The Messenger of God said: When you stand up to pray, perform your prayer as if it were your last...' (Ahmad)
Performing your prayer in a satisfactory manner should lead to a radical change in the way you lead your daily life. Salah must be as the Quran states: Surely, Salah prevents indecency and evil [al-Ankabut 29: 45.] Your improved and more disciplined life will in turn help the quality of your Prayer to increase even more. The two should continuously reinforce each other.
Remember, Salah is an obligation. Whether your heart is attentive or not, it must be performed. You cannot give up Prayer because to you it appears useless. There is punishment for a Prayer not performed satisfactorily. It will be a witness against you rather than a witness for you on the Day of Judgment. Don't give up the obligation but try to infuse it with the purpose it seeks to serve - remembrance of Allah. It is important to remember the saying of the Prophet (pbuh)
"If a man performs two rakas of Salah without the distraction of any worldly thought, all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari.)
Compiled from "In The Early Hours" by Khurram Murad