Praying is a way of communicating with the the Almighty. We often tend to pray and remember Allah (swt) only in misery and hard times. We ask for daily needs and forget the higher spiritual life we should struggle to achieve during our probation time on earth.
The "Knower of All" has taught us a perfect prayer, Surah al-Fatiha. Every muslim recites Surah al-Fatiha several times a day during their 5 obligatory prayers but few are aware of the true meaning behind these seven beautiful verses placed in the Opening Chapter of the Quran, also called "The Protective Surah" because it includes everything that guarantees a muslim to live rightly and be saved on the Day of Judgment.
Below is a detailed explanation of the 7 verses of the Opening Surah;
1. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful (1:1);
We begin with remembering Allah. When reciting His name we develop consciousness for The Creator thus removing our wrongful thoughts and making the initiation with purity of heart. Allah makes us come closer to Him and He opens up our eyes so that we see all that is good.
2. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds (1:2);
In the second verse we praise Allah's name. By doing this we show our gratitude and express from our heart that all blessing has been given to us by Allah alone and doesn't come from our own merits or from anybody else. We are then being made clear of the fact that everything is existing because of Allah.
3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful (1:3);
The Creator then introduces Himself to us with His two attribues "Rahman" and "Rahim." "Rahim", meaning Mercy may imply pity, long-suffering, patience and forgiveness, all of which a muslim needs and Allah's mercy bestows on him. But there is a Mercy that goes even before the need arises; "Rahman", meaning Grace, implies to His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, and leading them to a much more clear and higher life.
4. The Master of the Day of Judgment (1:4);
We are then being reminded of the Day of Judgment when we will be resurrected and held accountable for our deeds. The Master will deal with us justly according to what we deserve. The punishment is hell for the wrongdoers and for the righteous there is eternal bliss.
5. Thee do we worship, And Thine aid we seek (1:5);
When we understand the Grace and Mercy of Allah and believe in Him as the one who will judge us on the Day of Judgment, the result is that we will bend in an act of worship. We now realize that it is only Allah who can help us because He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them. Hence, He is the only one who is worthy of our devotion. It is our own personal responsibility to prepare ourselves for our final destination. So we ask Allah for guidance, so that we can strengthen our hearts with knowledge.
6. Show us the Straight Way (1:6);
There are many ways to go in life, but only one single narrow way is the Straight way. We want to be guided to the Straight way that will keep us under Allah's Grace and Mercy and make us successful both in the earthly life and in the hereafter.
7. The way of those on whom Thou has bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not Astray (1:7);
Those who stray will be lead to the darkness while the other part will be under the Light of Allah's Grace. One can be lead to darkness by deliberately breaking Allah's law or out of carelessness. While those who are under His Grace will be protected from breaking the law and being careless.
When reciting Surat Al-Fatiha we mention Allah's name and remind ourselves that He is the Lord over all that exist and that He is the Rahim and the Rehman for this life and the hereafter. We are also being reminded of the day of recompense (Yawm-ad-Deen) where we will get our punishment or reward. We declare that we only worship Him (Tawheed) and that He is the controller of everything in that is in existence. We now realize that He is the Supreme Master and we ask for guidance. We want to be directed to the straight path (Seerat-ul-Mustaqeen) so that we can be obedient to Allah and avoid the path of those who are misguided.
The Glorious Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali