The importance of praying on time is something many people overlook.
People use different excuses to justify delaying their prayers, and to many people these excuses seem reasonable. One of the most common excuses that people use when it comes to delaying their prayers is work. They delay their prayers until they get home due to being ‘unclean’ or uncomfortable praying at work.
The reason that these excuses seem reasonable is because we don’t truly understand the difference between praying on time and delaying our prayers.
Imam Jaafar al Sadiq (AS) said (in regards to the daily prayers): “The virtue of the earliest time over the latest time, is as the virtue of the Hereafter over this world’s life”.
We have many traditions regarding the virtue of the next life over this life, but it is enough to know that the Hereafter is eternal while this world’s life is limited.
In another tradition regarding the importance of praying on time, Imam Ali (AS) wrote in a letter to Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr: “Observe the timing of the prayer and perform it at its prescribed time, neither hastening to pray it earlier in order to be free of it, nor delaying it because of some work”
These words of Imam Ali (AS) teach us not only to avoid delaying our prayers, but also to avoid praying with the intention of wanting to ‘be free’ of our prayers, or praying on time just to get our prayers out of the way, as though our prayers are a burden on us. We do not think of our prayers as a way of thanking Allah (SWT) for everything he has given us. For our health. For our wealth. For our ability and strength to perform our day to day duties.
When the time for prayer sets in we should drop everything and attend to our prayers. We are taught this by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in this narration by Imam Ali (AS): “The Prophet (PBUH) never put anything before his prayer, neither his dinner nor anything else. When the time for prayer set in, it was as if he knew neither family nor close friend”.
Many times we read or hear narrations of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Holy Imams (AS) but we don’t sit down and truly ponder over them. We think ‘how can the same action, performed only a few ours late have such a great difference in reward?’
Allah (SWT) in his infinite mercy has given us and promised us so much in exchange for so little. And one of these ‘little’ actions he has asked of us is to pray on time. Is it not time we started doing so?