Did you know that there is a simple three-step process to making an effective dua (invocation)?
Here it goes:
1) Begin with praise for Allah using His most beautiful names and attributes. Choose one or two that are connected to whatever you want to ask for. For instance, if you want to do well on an exam, call out to him as Al-Hakim (The Wise) and Al-Alim (The All-Knowing). If you want help in a financial matter, you could use Ar-Razzaq (The Provider) and Al-Ghani (The Wealthy, or The One Who Is Free of Need). Allah loves to hear the dua of a believer who praises Him.
2) Bless Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). You can simply ask Allah to bless His Last Messenger. Or you can do elaborate durood (blessing of the Prophet) asking for peace and mercy for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his noble wives, his descendants, and all of his followers.
3)Ask for whatever you want and/or need. Do not be afraid to ask for minor, simple things. For example, the Sahabah (companions or disciples) sometimes made dua for shoes. They saw Allah as the solution to all their problems – big, medium, or small.
But if that is not your style, look to the classics. One simple yet profound dua is “Rabbana atina fi dunya hasanatau wa fil akhirita hasanatau wa qina azaban nar. (Our Lord, give us the best in this world and in the Hereafter and save us from the punishment of the fire.)”
You can ask Allah to use His wisdom to grant you whatever He knows is best for you. You can ask Him to fill you with contentment with the mercy and blessings that He bestows upon you.
Don’t neglect the Ummah in your duas. I’ve heard many different duas for the Ummah, but one has a very special place in my heart. It is the dua of my grandmother who simply prays, “O Allah, make the Muslims behave like Muslims.”
I pray that Allah, the Answerer of Prayers and the Most Merciful, grants us the power to make more effective duas for our sake, for the sake of His Noble Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, and for the sake of our entire Ummah. Ameen.