In order to gain proper concentration in Prayer, it is important to keep one’s mind free of all pre-occupations with worldly affairs. Since our minds tend to dwell on the things which we are currently absorbed with, it is important to break the hold of this world upon our minds by conditioning ourselves to think consistently of Allah and the Last Day. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A true believer is one who has made all of his thoughts subservient to the bigger thought: Allah.”
Another important point to remember is that often because of our indulgence in major sins, we may be deprived of true joy in Prayer as a penalty for these sins. Such sins include displeasing one’s parents, fornication or adultery, indiscriminate mingling and mixing with members of the opposite sex, unethical conduct and behavior in financial dealings, and so on.
Therefore, as a prerequisite step towards improving our concentration in Prayer, we must examine our life and purge it of all the major sins according to the best of our ability. After having done so, we can follow these tips which have been gleaned from the discussions of the salaf as-salih (pious predecessors):
1. Before standing up for Prayer, try to deal with all the minor urgent matters which demand your attention. If you are pressed by hunger, eat first; if you are pressed to attend to the call of nature, relieve yourself; if you are the parent of an infant, feed him or her, or keep him or her busy.
2. Perform your wudu’ (ablution) well, paying due care and attention.
3. Approach the Prayer with zest and passion as if it is the most important task in your life. Actually the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that we could do nothing in this world that could ever surpass Prayer in merit and excellence.
4. Visualize that in your Prayer you are going to have a special audience with Allah, Lord of the worlds, and that you are enjoying a direct communion with Him—which, in fact, is true.
5. Think of the Prayer you are performing as if it were the last Prayer of your life. In fact, it could very well be the last one, since no one is given a guarantee that he would live to perform another Prayer.
6. Picture the scene of the Last Day when people will be lined up into two groups, one destined for Heaven, and another for Hell, and ask yourself where you would be placed
7. Focus your mind on what you are reading in your Prayer.
8. If, in spite of your best efforts, your mind is still wandering, seek refuge in Allah and bring your mind back to Prayer.
9. Pray to Allah and beg Him to grant you true the joy of concentrating in your Prayer and protection against the wanderings of your mind