Salah is not just an empty ritual of going up and down and reciting certain Arabic phrases: when we perform Salah we are actually communicating with Allah (swt) Most High, the one who created us and everything around us. We should be aware of this and envision ourselves having a conversation with Allah (swt) when in prayer.
It is mentioned in hadith Qudsi that Allah (swt) says: “I have divided prayer between Myself and My servant into two halves, and My servant shall have what he has asked for. When the servant says: ‘Alhamdu lillahi rabbil aalameen‘ (Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds), Allah (swt) says: ‘My servant has praised Me’. And when he says: ‘al-Rahmaan al-Raheem‘ (the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful), Allah (swt) says: ‘My servant has extolled Me’. And when he says: ‘Maaliki yawm al-din’ (the King of the Day of Judgment), Allah (swt) says: ‘My servant has glorified Me’ – and on one occasion He said: ‘My servant has submitted to My power’. And when he says: ‘Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta’een‘ (You alone we worship. You alone we ask for help), He says: ‘This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for’. And when he says: ‘Ihdina al-sirata al-mustaqim, siratal alladeena an‘amta alayhim ghayril maghdubi alayhim wa la daalleen’ (Guide us on the Straight Path, the Path of those You have blessed, not of those with anger on them, nor of the misguided), He says: ‘This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for‘.” (Sahih Muslim)
Salah is not just a one-way activity: it involves two parties, the worshiper and the One who is worshiped – Allah (swt) Most High. This Salah is an act of remembrance and in this too there is reciprocity. If you remember Allah (swt), He in turn remembers you as He has said: “Fadhkuroonee adhkurukm” (Remember Me – I will remember you) (2: 152). Think about that for a second: when you make Salah, Allah (swt) is engaging in your remembrance! Subhanallah. And what is more, His remembrance of us is far greater than our remembrance of Him. This is what is mentioned by Imam al-Qurtubi in his tafsir of the ayah: “Wa ladhikrullahi akbar” (But the remembrance of Allah is greater) [29: 45].
There is meaning and significance behind every word and action of the Salah, and we should be concentrating on this while performing it. When we bow down in Ruku’, we should not just regard it as another posture of the Salah, but we should be aware that this bowing down is an act of humility: we are abasing ourselves before Allah (swt). And so too with Sujud, when we place the most noble part of our body on the ground, then we should realise that this is a position of supreme humility. We are lowering ourselves before Allah (swt) and it shows that we acknowledge that He is the High One, the Exalted while we are lowly and insignificant before Him. So we should try to be conscious of all of these things and bear it in mind while making Salah: our Salah should not just be another meaningless ritual.