The Real Significance Of Prayer
If a person really believes in Allah (God), how will he show it? And how will it affect his life? For a Muslim, his faith is first demonstrated by the five daily ritual prayers called Salah. These prayers are so important that they are the second pillar of Islam after the Testimony of Faith (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger), obligatory for all, and they are the first thing the Muslim will be asked about on Judgment Day.
Five times a day a Muslim is asked to stop whatever he is doing — be it sleep, work, or play — and make a ritual ablution before facing his Lord in Prayer.
No matter what his actions, the most important thing to a Muslim is his relationship with Allah. This relationship is demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the ritual prayers.
Only if the prayers are sound and proper will the deeds be sound and proper.
In the Prayer, the Muslim faces toward the Ka’bah in Makkah, the symbol of the Oneness of Allah and the unity of Muslims. He stands, bows, and prostrates to his Lord while praising Him, reciting some of the words He revealed in the Qur’an, and asking for His forgiveness and mercy. In doing so, the Muslim reminds himself of his position in the universe as a humble servant of Allah and of his total dependence on his Creator, Cherisher and Sustainer.
When the prayer is performed properly — with due humility and remembrance of Allah — it has a lasting effect on the person. It fills his heart with the remembrance of Allah, and with fear of and hope in Him. He will not want to move from that lofty position by disobeying Allah.
The Prophet compared this experience of making ablution and praying five times a day to having a river running in front of one’s house.
If one bathed in that river five times a day, would any filth remain on his body? Likewise, the ablution and prayer five times a day removes one’s sins and also prevents him from sinning.
Prayers also affect the life of the Muslim by encouraging him to schedule his activities around their fixed times.
There is some flexibility, for each time is actually a span of one hour or more.
But the Muslim who is conscious of Allah will strive to schedule his life in such a way that he does not miss any of the prayers — for example, by postponing a shopping trip until after a Prayer, or by taking a break from work, or by sleeping earlier so as to be able to rise for the dawn prayer.
Therefore, if one really believes in Allah, he will show it by his commitment to the five daily Prayers, and these, in turn, will help him to live righteously.