I often find myself in the last prostration of my prayer wondering where it all went. Which verses did I read this time? Did I pray 3 or 4 rakas? What’s worse is when I continue a train of thought right through the tasleem. I’m thinking about what to make for dinner while doing the tashahud, saying Assalamu Alaikum to the angels, and while I put my prayer clothes away. It’s as if there is no transition between the task of praying and the routine planning I have to do for my day.
Ukhhhhhh … I can’t believe it, how could I have prayed my whole prayer and still not recall a thing from it?!?! Clearly my prayer is not fulfilling its deeply meaningful purpose if I can’t even remember performing most of its tenants! Sometimes when my mind drifts back into the task of prayer itself, I think ‘Aren’t you embarrassed to stand in front of Allah like this and think about other things?!’. The Prophet of Allah swt taught us to face Allah during our prayers. He told us that Allah swt faces us so long as we are facing Him. When a slave of Allah turns away from Him though, Allah also turns away. The scary thing is that this might not just mean physically turning. What about spiritually turning away? What if your body is here in the prayer and your heart is off somewhere else. What are you saying to Allah swt, the Master of all creation, when you choose to think about the mundane of this trivial world while He is facing you? Is dinner really so important?!!?!!
Usually that helps me get back on track. But surely, soon my mind wanders again. It’s as though I am completely unable to focus.
Outside of prayer, I find that I’m usually trying to fit as many tasks and thoughts into a single moment. Concentration seems almost antithetical to what I spend most of my time trying to do: more tasks in less time. I’m not really sure what I’m planning on doing with all that extra time I seem to be trying to squeeze out of every task. I’m surely not using it to pray more or improve my spirituality. This prayer flaw is not simply a matter of time, it’s a matter of attention. Even short on time, one can focus in. Regardless of how much I expand the length of my prayer though, it won’t gain meaning unless I invest my attention wholly.
I am left with the task of training my mind and heart to focus. My stamina is low. I don’t have much practice in devoting my full and undivided attention to any one thing. But for the sake of my soul, I know I need to start practicing.
I want to bring my mind back into my prayer.