Prayer is a central, fundamental element of Islam. Every Muslim must pray every day of their lives, several times each day. Prayer in Islam is a way in which each Muslim communicated directly with God. This is the reason why every prayer begins with Al-Fatiha, the first Surah of the Qur'an. The main purpose of prayer is to thank God, to praise God, and to ask God for direction. This goes along with the very definition of being a Muslim; that is, one who submits to the will of God in every aspect of one's life.
The fact that prayers are daily, and several times each day, stresses the importance of remembering God at every moment of our waking lives. It reminds Muslims that life must revolve around God and submitting to Him. Daily prayer also gives Muslims the chance to thank God every day for the blessings that He has bestowed on humanity.
The Qur'an is explicit in stating that prayer and reciting God's word is a way to strengthen one's faith. Prayer allows Muslims to strive to be the best and to put their trust in God. Both the Qur'an and the Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) place prayer as one of the highest virtues, or deeds, along with giving to charity. The Prophet Muhammad considered that prayer is a way to help Muslims stay on the straight path to God. A daily, constant prayer reminds Muslims of their duty towards God, of how they must behave at all time, and of the things that are truly important to Muslims.
Being a Muslim is, by definition, about submitting one's own life to God. This means that God is central to every Muslim's life. Every moment, a Muslim gives thanks to God for the blessings in his life, and asks God for guidance in every decision he makes. This is why prayer is so central to a Muslim's life; no matter what is going on in one's life, there are several times each day in which a Muslim communicates with God, gives thanks, and asks for guidance.
Non-Muslims will often be surprised at the sight of Muslims praying on the street, or excusing themselves in the middle of a conversation or meeting to pray. However, this act illustrates just how important God is in the lives of Muslims. Nothing takes precedence over God in a Muslim's thoughts. Likewise, no other activity is as important to a Muslim as his daily prayers. Often, it is this very aspect of Islam that attracts people to convert. Islam is a highly individual religion. Muslims believe that there can be no intermediary in the relationship between man and God. The five daily prayers of a Muslim are an example of how every Muslim, as an individual, takes time each day to commune with God.