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I’ve been asked to pick one thing I would advise someone who wants to improve their prayer: the big takeaway. I’d never really felt that I had an answer. Intentionality? The Golden Minute? Imagination? All of these things have been valuable, but their hold has waned.

Lately though, I feel like I finally have an answer: Gratitude.

On some late night or another, among many silly videos, a short on how gratitude plants positive seeds in our life popped up in my youtube feed. One rabbit hole later, and it seemed that truly, gratitude actually blocks negative feelings as they arise. When someone tunes into gratitude, it prevents feelings like jealousy and regret. Pulling gratitude into your life also means pushing out the bad, so while in the moment you feel happier and better, you will also feel happier and better later because you blocked the things that bring you down and trap you in negativity. It seems that gratitude’s benefits are really profound.

There is a verse in the Quran in which God says:

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ وَلَئِن كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌۭ ٧

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.’”

Ibrahim 14:7

When I used to read this verse, I would understand it as a prescription for attracting some sort of future reward. Be grateful for your wealth and God will give you more wealth. Be grateful for your health and Allah will give you health for longer. It seems though, that God has prescribed gratitude as much for the now as for later. In and of itself the feeling of gratitude expands and creates abundance as you are feeling it. Given the research on how gratitude blocks negativity, it seems that calling gratitude into your life means immediately experiencing a better life and this only paves the path to experiencing better and better.

But what does that mean for the salah experience? How can gratitude alter prayer?

Well firstly, Allah offers us the chance to create this betterment multiple times a day. Articles on gratitude like the one linked above constantly advise setting some time each day to actively work on gratitude. For Muslims, this allotted time is built into our day, each day. If we link gratitude with our prayer, our lives will quickly start to feel more peaceful and joyful. Even more, our prayer itself will start to feel pleasant and even exciting.

The truth is I had been trying to feel grateful in my prayers for some time. Anytime I have brought gratitude into my heart while praying, my prayer has immediately elevated. Somehow the feeling takes over and other passing thoughts have a harder time breaking through. When I find my mind distracted, I remind myself of gratitude and I’m able to tune back in. If my sinfulness has overwhelmed me with shame and hopelessness, I still feel I can turn to feelings of gratitude before Allah: at least You are giving me one more moment for one more feeling. I even find that priming myself with gratitude opens up the feelings urging me to ask for forgiveness and help with my needs. Simplest of all, a little feeling of gratitude often blossoms into a lot and I feel much more grounded and secure after praying: something I have been yearning for for years. Holding gratitude in my heart as I stand before Allah multiple times a day breathes life into me that nothing else has been able to do.

If you’re looking for a way to start this gratitude habit in your own prayer, this wonderful article encourages reflecting on a single blessing when praying so as to better connect with God. Pick a specific thing in your life and remind yourself of it every time you are about to pray. Tell yourself that you want to feel grateful for this blessing and actually imagine the feeling at the center of your chest warming you. Though it might feel contrived at first, the feeling will quickly become natural as you ponder this blessing of yours. This is the little seed you are planting. You’ll soon find that it will grow and become the sweet fruit you harvest as well: a beautiful prayer life of connection with God.

Was This Useful In Improving the Quality of Your Salah?