Prayer is the pillar of religion and the best of its worship acts. A number of times every day, Muslims leave aside worldly engagements and focus their attention to the Merciful Lord. They perform ablution and with perfect sincerity, stand before the Creator of the universe and become engrossed in ritual prayer. They have confidential conversation with their God and speak to Him directly. They connect their heart to Almighty Allah and through His remembrance, they illuminate their hearts.
This worship act is having a special importance and it is highly emphasized in verses of Quran and traditions of Prophet.
The Holy Quran says:
وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلَو ةَ وَءَاتُواْ الزَّكَو ةَ وَارْكَعُواْ مَعَ الرَّ كِعِينَ
“And keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and bow down with those who bow down.” (2:43)
يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُوا بِالْصَّبْرِ والصَّلَو ةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْصَّبِرِينَ
“O you who believe! seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient.” (2:153)
قُل لِّعِبَادِىَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ يُقِيمُواْ الصَّلَوةَ وَيُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا رَزَقْنَهُمْ سِرّاً وَعَلَانِيَةً مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِىَ يَوْمٌ لَّا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَ لَا خِلَلٌ
“Say to My servants who believe that they should keep up prayer and spend out of what We have given them secretly and openly before the coming of the day in which there shall be no bartering nor mutual befriending.” (14:31)
اُتْلُ مَآ أُوْحِىَ إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَآءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَلَذِكْرُ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ
“Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Book and keep up prayer; surely prayer keeps (one) away from indecency and evil, and certainly the remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do.” (29:45)
Zaid says: I heard Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) say: The best deed in the view of Almighty Allah is Prayer and it is also the last advice of the prophets. How nice it is that man performs the ritual bath (Ghusl) or ablution (Wudhu) and after that he stands up to pray: bowing and prostrating, while no one is looking at him. When a person prolongs his prostration, Shaitan wails: O woe, this person has obeyed God, while I disobeyed Him. He is prostrating and I refused to perform it.
The Messenger of Allah (s) said: When a believer servant stands up for prayer, Almighty Allah looks at him till he concludes the prayer, divine mercy surrounds him from above his head to the heavens. Angels surround him from around him to the heavens. Allah appoints an angel on him, who says: O worshipper, if you knew who looks upon you and with whom you talk in secret, you would never finish the prayer and would not move from your place.
The Messenger of Allah said: On Judgment Day, people shall be called for accounting. The first point one would be questioned about is prayer. Thus, if he had fulfilled this duty with sincerity and in proper manner, he would get salvation and if not, he would be thrown into Hellfire.
In the same way, he said: One who considers Prayers unimportant is not from me. By Allah, he would not meet me at the Pool of Kauthar. And one who drinks wine is not from me. By Allah, he would not meet me at the Pool of Kauthar.
Islam has not only emphasized the offering of Prayer, it has asked Muslims to establish Prayer; that is they should consider Prayer as an important duty and try for its establishment. They should be attentive to the times of Prayer. They should hasten to it at the earliest time. They should be present in Masjids and pray in congregation. They should accord priority to it over all other activities. The command of Prayer was so important in Islam that intentional omission of it, without any excuse is considered to be a greater sin even upto the extent of disbelief.
Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a) has narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (s) and said: O Messenger of Allah (s), please dispense advice to me. He said: Do not omit Prayer intentionally as Muslim Ummah has declared immunity from one who omits it intentionally.
Jabir has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: There is no gap between disbelief and faith, except the omitting of Prayer.
Presence of mind during Prayers and attention to Almighty Allah is also very important. Recitations and recitals, bowings and prostrations, Tasha-hud and Salam form the structure of Prayer. But presence of mind is having the position of the soul of Prayer. Soul of the worshipper, who prays with the presence of mind, rises up towards God to reach the position of proximity. Although presence of mind is not a necessary condition of correctness of Prayer, but it is the criterion of its value and acceptance; that is why it is much emphasized.
The Holy Prophet (s) said: There is difference in acceptance of prayers; in some half, one third, one fourth, one fifth till one tenth of it is accepted. And some prayers, like an old dress is twisted and thrown at the face of the worshipper. Indeed your benefit from prayer is proportionate to your sincere attention to God.
He also said: One who is attentive to anything other than Allah in Prayers, Allah says to him: O My servant, in whose pursuit are you and whom do you seek? Do you seek a lord other than Me? Or do you seek the attention of someone other than Me? Or do you desire the blessings of someone other than Me? Whereas I am the most merciful, generous and reward giver; in prayer, I give you a reward, which is unlimited. Pay attention to Me, because I and My angels have focused our attention to you. Thus, if the worshipper turns his attention to Almighty Allah, his sin of the past inattention is forgiven. If the second time also, he becomes attentive to someone other than God. The Almighty repeats the same statements; thus if he returns and again focuses his attention to God, the Almighty also overlooks his past carelessness. If the third time, again he becomes attentive to someone other than God, Almighty Allah also repeats the same words. Thus, if the worshipper turns his attention to Almighty Allah, the Almighty forgives his previous sin. But if the fourth time again he becomes inattentive from Allah, Almighty Allah and His angels turn away from him and Almighty Allah says: O servant, I leave you to that, which you like and which you seek.
Types of Prayers
Prayers can be divided into two types: Obligatory and recommended. Five kinds of prayers are obligatory:
1. Daily obligatory prayers: that is Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Evening and Night.
2. Ayaat Prayer: This is a two-unit prayer recited on special occasions in a particular manner. Ayaat Prayer becomes obligatory when there is solar or lunar eclipse, or there is earthquake or a great natural disaster takes place, which generally terrifies people.
3. Funeral Prayer: This Prayer is prayed in a particular way over the dead body of a Muslim.
4. Prayer of circumambulating (Tawaf) of an Obligatory Hajj: This is a two unit prayer and it is performed after the Tawaf of Hajj and Umrah.
5. Lapsed Prayers of the father are obligatory on the eldest son.
Recommended Prayers are numerous and most of them consist of two units each; like the Nafila of Daily Prayer, which is prayed along the Daily Prayers; Nafila of Noon Prayer is eight units and it is prayed before Noon Prayer and similarly Nafila of Afternoon Prayer is also eight units and it is also prayed before Afternoon Prayer. Nafila of Evening Prayer is four units after Evening Prayer and Nafila of Night Prayer is two units after Night Prayer if performed in the sitting position; and Nafila of Morning Prayer is two units and it is prayed before Morning Prayer.
Midnight Prayer is also an emphasized recommended Nafila Prayer, which is prayed just before dawn. It consists of eight units recited in units of two prayed with intention of Shab prayer; then two units with intention of Shafa Prayer and then one unit with intention of Witr Prayer.
Other recommended prayers are also there, which are recited on particular occasions. Those who are interested may refer to books of supplications.
 Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, Pg. 264
 Al-Kafi, Vol. 3, Pg. 265
 Wasailush Shia, Vol. 4, Pg. 30
 Wasailush Shia, Vol. 4, Pg. 25
 Wasailush Shia, Vol. 4, Pg. 42
 Wasailush Shia, Vol. 4, Pg. 43
 A part of ritual of Prayer performed in seated position at the end of the second and the last unit.
 Final salutation indicating end of the Prayer
 Biharul Anwar, Vol. 84, Pg. 260
 Biharul Anwar, Vol. 84, Pg. 244
 Extra supererogatory prayer
 Midnight Prayer