by Makkah Ali, Co-host – @IdentityPolPod, Board @MuslimARC

As a Muslim who has only recently figured out a way to take my “on again, off again” relationship with prayer to the next level, I thought it might be helpful to share some things that helped solidify salah’s position in my daily routine.

1. Remember Why We Pray

A teacher recently emphasized to me that we’re repeatedly told that prayer is something that benefits us. In the blessings sense, of course. But also, prayer is inherently beneficial to our health and well-being.

2. Rethink  Prayer’s Benefits

Think of prayer as an act of self-care. If my day is so busy that I can’t take a few 5 min breaks, isn’t that an indication that I need to slow down? If I’m not starting and ending my days with a moment of stillness, am I setting myself up for burnout?

If I’m not ready to sit before Allah and honestly admit what I want and need, will I actually be able to ask other people for help or take steps to helping myself? Prayer helps you check in with yourself and fosters a necessary form of self-awareness and self-compassion.

3. Make Prayer a Non-Negotiable Commitment

Make prayer a meeting you can’t miss. At the beginning of every year, I place short blocks on my calendar for each prayer. The process takes about an hour to set up, but the daily calendar reminders/blocks ensure that no one (including me) schedules over prayer.

4. Make Life Easy by Setting Prayer Spaces

Create a dedicated space. At home, there’s a corner where a rug is always out. At work, I keep one in the motherhood room (which I also pre-book). Out, I carry a travel rug gifted to me by @SamiraImam_. This helps me literally hold space for prayer in a tangible way.

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

Create a behavior contract with yourself to reinforce the behavior. A few of mine:

  • I’m not allowed to leave the house until fajr is done.
  • I’m not allowed to leave work until dhuhr and asr are done.
  • I’m not allowed to get in bed until maghrib and isha are done.

6. Go Easy on Yourself

Maybe you can’t start with all 5 on day 1. Maybe start with 2 and build from there. Or maybe you can’t pray all 5 as soon as they come in. Maybe try to start with 3 blocks per day:

  • One for fajr
  • One for dhuhr and asr
  • One for maghrib and isha

7. Remember, It’s Never Too Late to Start!

Allah knows who you are and what you struggle with. He just wants you to try your best. Your prayer journey can start with the next one! You’re never too far gone or too damaged or too distant. Every day you’re alive is second chance.

This was for all my fellow never, sometimes, lackluster, and always distracted praying folks. We got this.

Let me know if you have any more tips of your own in the comments below. Would love to hear what y’all have done to build a sustainable prayer routine!

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Makkah Ali

Makkah Ali

Co-host of Identity Politics Podcast, Board Preisdent - Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative

Makkah is a Chicago-based podcaster, facilitator and public speaker with a  decade of experience connecting people to the resources they need to more effectively and collaboratively achieve their goals. She is Co-Host and Executive Producer of the Identity Politics Podcast, a show that features new perspectives on race, gender, and life as Muslims at the intersection of multiple identities in the United States.  She also serves as the president of the Board of Directors of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. She has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on NPR.