As we prepare for the arrival of the beloved and blessed month of Ramadan, we are greeted by a variety of Ramadan-prep khutbas, articles, workshops, etc. These are excellent and vital resources that we should use to properly prepare ourselves, spiritually, mentally and physically, to maximize our Ramadan.
At the same time, some of us may face challenging schedules and commitments and we may be daunted by all the modifications that we aspire to or are expected to adopt for Ramadan. Therefore, I wanted to share two simple and (inshallah) efficacious recommendations about dua that you can apply daily in Ramadan. Both the Quran and Hadith speak of the inestimable virtues of dua as the essence and best form worship as well as an extraordinary way of drawing closer to Allah. So here are two practical suggestions:
First, try your best to wake up for Suhur, not only to eat but also to speak with your Lord. Summer fasts can definitely be challenging because very early Suhur times, but think of these as exceptional opportunities to draw closer to Allah and to maximize your efforts. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ specifically encouraged and mentioned the merits of eating Suhur  as well as the extraordinary merits of Tahajjud time . It’s a beautiful Sunnah to eat Suhur and realistically we all need this, physically and spiritually, nutritious start to our day. Since you are already getting up, spare a few moments to make dua either before or after eating Suhur and before Fajr commences. As Imam Ash-Shafi’i noted, “The dua made at Tahajjud is like an arrow which does not miss its target.” Use this auspicious time to supplicate to your Lord about all your needs, of this world and the next. At the very least, ask Allah to facilitate your fasting. If time allows, try to pray even two rakats of Tahajjud before Fajr.
Second, try to take a few minutes before opening your fast to also make dua and beseech your Lord for mercy and forgiveness. Undoubtedly, summer fasts are very long and tiresome, and many of us are either exhausted or preoccupied at Iftar time to focus on much else besides eating. But these are precious moments when all your duas are accepted! The Prophet ﷺ specifically mentioned these supplications, of the fasting person when they are about to open their fast, as being accepted.  So whether you’re at work, at home or at the masjid, don’t neglect this precious opportunity. Thus, as we anxiously await Iftar, instead of scampering for food or futilely chatting about our day, we should rather try to quietly comport ourselves to ask Allah to fulfill our needs, hopes and desires. At the very least, beg Allah to accept your fasting and overlook any of its deficiencies.
As mentioned, the course of your day may likely be consumed with work and other responsibilities, which may or may not allow you much time to maintain a special Ramadan schedule of personal devotions. However, try to use these two brief yet profoundly opportune times, when starting and breaking your fast, to maximize your daily routine for felicitous dividends. Inshallah, if you’re mindful of these simple schedule adjustments, you’ll see transformative spiritual effects. As our scholars have taught: Ramadan isn’t merely about changing our schedules; Ramadan is ultimately about changing our hearts.