Repenting to Allah
Telling Allah about your situation
A mention of the mercy of thy Lord unto His servant Zakhariyyah—when he cried unto his Lord a cry in secret, saying, “My Lord! Lo! The bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor who shall inherit of me and inhereit of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee).” (Maryam:2-6)
Al-Yaqeen and full awareness (“presence of the heart”)
The Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) said, “Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers, and know that Allah will not accept the supplication from an absent heart.” (hasan, at-Tirmidhi)
Asking Allah three times
“If you ask Allah for the jannah three times, the jannah will say, ‘O Allah, make him enter jannah.’ And if you ask Allah to protect you from hellfire three times, hellfire will say, ‘O Allah, protect him from the hellfire.’”
NB. Not every supplication should be performed thrice.
Man prayeth for evil as he prayeth for good. [Isra:11]
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (s.A.w.s.) said, “The person’s supplication will be answered unless he asks for sin or severing the ties of kinship, except if the person is hasty.” Then the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) was asked about hastiness. So the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) described it as, “The person says, ‘I asked, and I have not seen the answer.’ Then he leaves dua.” (Sahih Muslim)
NB. It is not considered haste in dua to ask for a speedy answer.
Asking with persistence (Al-Ilhah ala Allah)
The Prophet (s.A.w.s.) said, “When you ask Allah, ask with confidence.”
Some of the early Muslims used to say that the suppliant should be like a child when you ask Allah, crying until you are answered.
Asking in secret
An example of this lies in the dua of Zakariyyah,
“A mention of the mercy of thy Lord unto His servant Zakhariyyah—when he cried unto his Lord a cry in secret.” (19:2)
Benefits of this secrecy include sincerity and belief in Allah’s attributes (Hearing, Seeing, Closeness).
Mentioning the result you expect from the fulfillment of the du’a
As in the surah,
“(Moses) said: My Lord! Relieve my mind and ease my task for me; and loose a knot from my tongue, that they may understand my saying. Appoint for me a henchman from my folk, Aaron, my brother. Confirm my strength with him. And let him share my task, that we may glorify Thee much, and much remember Thee. Lo! Thou art ever Seeing us.” [Ta Ha:29-34]
Omitting details in the actual request
Such as in the ayah,
“Our Lord, give us good in this world, good in the hereafter, and save us from the punishment of the fire.” (2:201)
Aisha narrated that the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) used to like comprehensive supplications, and he would leave others. (Sahih, Abu Dawud)
One of the Sahaba saw his child asking, “O Allah, give me the right palace on the right side of jannah.” So he told his child, “Do not do that. Rather, ask Allah to enter you into jannah and to protect you from the fire.”
It is better to have wudu when making dua.
Facing the qiblah
The Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.), when he climbed the Saffa and the Marwa, he would face the qiblah and make du’a.
Allah’s are the fairest names. Invoke Him by them. (7:180)
Raising the hands
Salman narrated from the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.), “Surely Allah is Hayyee, and He loves to conceal the shortcomings of His servants. If His servant raises his hands, He does not let him go empty handed.”
NB. It is inappropriate to raise the hands in certain occasions of dua (i.e. during Friday khutbas) and sunnah upon other occasions (i.e. the dua for rain).
Not consuming Haram
On the authority of Abu Hurairah, The Messenger of Allah said,
“Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the faithful to do that which he commanded the messengers, and the Almighty has said: ‘O ye messengers! Eat of the good things and do right.’ And Allah the Almighty has said, ‘O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you.’”
Then he (s.A.a.w.s.) mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying] : "O Lord! O Lord!" Meanwhile, his (the traveler’s) food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully; so how can he be answered!
(Related by Muslim)
Thinking well of Allah (Husnu thun bi’llah)
When the wife of Imran said, “My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me, Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!” (3:38)
And your Lord hath said: Pray unto Me and I will hear your prayer. Lo! Those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced. (40:60)
An unto Thamud their brother Salih. He said, “O my people! Serve Allah, ye have no other God save Him. He brought you forth from the earth and hath made you husband it. So ask forgiveness of Him and turn unto Him repentant. Lo, my Lord is Nigh, Responsive. (11:61)
Hadith Qudsi: “I am as my servants thinks of me, and I am with him whenever he mentions me.”
Asking Allah by one’s good deeds
Bukhari and Muslim relate the hadith of the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) of the story of three men, who each supplicated to Allah by a good deed they had done earlier in their lives. As the story goes, “Three persons of a people before you were on a journey when they were overtaken by a storm and therefore they took shelter in a cave. A rock slipped down from the mountain and blocked the exit from the cave. One of them said, ‘The only way for deliverance left is to beseech Allah in the name of some virtuous deed.’” One of the men mentioned a good deed which they had done for Allah, and supplicated, “O Lord, if I did this thing seeking only Thy pleasure, then do Thou relieve us of the distress wrought upon us by this rock.” The rock moved, but not enough to free the men. So, the other two made similar supplications by their good deeds until the rock moved enough to free them.
Asking Allah in times of ease
The Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) said, “Whoever is pleased that Allah answers his prayers during hardships and difficulties, let him make much supplication in times of ease.” (Hasan, at-Tirmidhi)
Choosing favored places.
For example, the Saffa and Marwa in Mecca are favored places, since the Prophet (sA.a.w.s.) made dua there.
Choosing favored times
The last third of the night is a favored time because Allah descends to the lowest heaven in that time and says, “Is there anyone asking for something so that I may grant him.”
Another favored time is between the adhan and iqamah, as the Prophet (sA.a.w.s.) told Anas, “Supplication between adhan and iqamah will never be rejected. So call upon Allah at that time.” (Authentic, Ibn Khuzaimah).
Another favored time is in sujud, as the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) said, “The servant is closest to his Lord while in sujud, so ask Allah in that time.”
Friday is also a preferred, especially in the last hour before maghrib.
Also, while the roosters crow, since the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) said, “When you hear the crowing of the rooster ask Allah from His favors because it saw an angel. And if you hear the braying of a donkey, seek refuge with Allah because it saw a devil.”
Since the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) said, “Two supplications will not be rejected: the supplication during adhan and under rain,” (hasan) then these two times are preferred for dua.
Supplication on Laylat’ul-Qadr, since it is a blessed and honored time. Aisha asked the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) “What should I say on Laylat’il-qadr?” And he replied, “O Allah, indeed you are a Pardoner, and you love pardon; so pardon me.”
Umm Salamah said, the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) entered when Abu Salamah was dying and he was looking at the heaven. So the Prophet (s.A.a.w.s.) closed his eyes and said, “When the soul is being seized, the eyes follow it.” Then some people from his relatives panicked. The Prophet (s.A.a.w.s) said, “Do not make du’a except for good. Indeed the angels will say, ‘Ameen’ for whatever you say. O Allah, fogive Abu Salamah, and raise his rank, and forgive us and forgive him, O Lord of the Universe, and expand his grave and illuminate it.”
Always remembering whom you are asking
You are asking Allah, Who loves to be asked, Who does not tire of suppliants, and He is Closest to you.