by Nilly Naseer-Farooqui, originally written on @wordsbehindasmile

I once heard that, “there are some people who feel better after they prayed and some people that pray after they feel better. Both are aiming for the same target, but the latter option will leave you feeling completely lost.” And I could not agree more.

Before I share my thoughts on this, I want to clarify that I’m not looking down on anyone; just merely explaining my experience and journey to get from wanting to pray, but just can’t, vs having the NEED to pray alhumdulillah.

1. Acknowledge the Reasons

We’re all at different phases in our lives, each bringing a whole different set of challenges and struggles with our iman (faith). People stop praying/never start for a lot of reasons. It could be that they’re having a hard time managing their time or dealing with depression; they’re not fully present in prayer so they start cutting off slowly from it, or they want to pray but simply don’t have the willpower to. Human beings are lazy when it comes to doing actions they don’t know how they can benefit from.

To deal with this problem, you have to understand what YOUR reasoning is. Do you feel you’re filled with too many sins to pray? Do you think you’ll lose time for other activities if you pray? Did you pray for something but it didn’t turn out the way you wanted, so you stopped? Or maybe you do pray but don’t feel like you’re fully in it because you’re thinking about other things/daydreaming?

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Whatever it is, figure out what your reasoning is for not wanting to pray.

2. Discover Your Own ‘Why’

Prayer is one of the most important pillars of Islam. I know that. Every Muslim knows that. Then why don’t we all do it?

This problem differs from person to person, but I want to focus here on WHY we pray. Besides it being a main pillar, we do it because we love God. When I had felt as if there’s something missing inside me, I realized that in order for me to pray because I want to pray, I had to build a relationship with God first.

Think of it as any other relationship in your life; why do you do things for other people? It’s because you care about them, you love them. You wouldn’t go out of your way for a stranger the same way, would you? Same thing here.

So how do we build this relationship?

3. Get to KNOW God

A huge issue I always had was we were all taught how to pray but not always why or the love for who we pray to. Whenever references to Islam were used culturally, it was used as a scare tactic. “If you don’t do this you’ll go to Hell.” “The punishment for so and so is this.” And the list goes on. But no one talks about His Mercy, or very little if they do.

Alhumdulillah (Praise be to God) became my favorite dhikr. I would sit each day thinking what I was grateful for, and recite Alhumdulillah each time I thought of things. Even as I moved throughout my day, or saw someone less fortunate than me, I thanked God each time. This increased my love for Him. Soon, it wasn’t hard to want to bow down in prayer because I would just be so overfilled with gratitude and love for all that I have. I WANTED to pray to give my thanks. What’s on your mind and tongue, is what’s going to be in your heart.

4. Know Your Barriers

Sins keep you away from prayer. When you commit a sin, you’re not thinking about God or His blessings. And after committing them, we either move on like nothing happened/justify to ourselves why it was necessary OR we feel the need to turn towards God, but this doubt inside you will convince you that you don’t deserve mercy.

Our access to prayer isn’t based on our sin level. God doesn’t weigh our sins and decide whether we’re worthy of approaching Him. If sin level mattered, no one would seem worthy.

5. Protect Your Circle

Beware of your company. Being around people who don’t fear God and encourage you to commit sins is not good for you in this life nor your hereafter. I remember the type of people I used to hang around, the kind that’d give you weird looks if you mentioned praying. They had convinced themselves and would try to convince me that haram was halal if I just looked at it with the right perspective.

Yes, they were Muslim. And yes, they were struggling. And I get it, some things in religion are hard to practice and one may not be there yet; however, we must learn to admit that we’re learning instead of saying it isn’t haram because of an opinion. It’s one thing to say your faith isn’t where you’d ideally want it to be vs. stating obviously haram things as halal. Who knows how many may be misguided this way. When I started feeling less and less guilt about doing wrong, I knew my heart was going in a very dangerous direction. It needed to change.

6. Make Prayer Your Anchor for Success

I honestly don’t know how I ever expected to be successful without salah (prayer). To have the urgency to pray, the NEED to pray. My faith has had its highs and lows, but Allah swt truly guides whom He pleases. It’s true what is said: take a step towards Him and He’ll take two. If you walk towards Him, He’ll come running.

Prayer is the first thing you’ll be asked about in the hereafter. Even if you don’t feel like it, pray. Take that step. Pray and build that connection. I’d be lying if I said I don’t struggle with my prayer time to time anymore, but nothing comes easy or else everyone would be doing it. And Jannah definitely isn’t going to come easy.

“As much as you fix your salah, your life will be fixed. If you are wondering why there is a delay in your sustenance, in your marriage, in your work, in your health. Look into your salah: are you delaying it?” – Hasan al-Basri

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Nilly Naseer-Farooqui

Nilly Naseer-Farooqui

CEO - Words Behind A Smile

Nilly Naseer-Farooqui is a TEDx speaker, computer scientist, Peak Performance speaker, Human Trafficking Prevention Educator, Modest-Fashion Stylist, and a Social Media Influencer. She is currently a Systems Analyst at Northwestern University, along with being a lifestyle blogger whose profile, Words Behind A Smile, caters to an audience of over 10,000 people all across the globe. Mentored by the renowned author, Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), she is a Certified Canfield Trainer in teaching his success principles nationwide. She is also an ambassador and prevention education speaker for Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and restoring the lives of human trafficking victims.