Dear Brothers in Islam,
Allah, the Exalted, said in the Holy Qur’an:
وَأَنْ أَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاةَ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَهُوَ الَّذِيَ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
Ayah 72 of Suratul-An^am means: [Perform the prayers regularly and fear Allah, for He will gather you (i.e., on the Day of Judgement)].
Allah, The Exalted, ordered us to worship Him alone and to perform acts of obedience to Him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was asked about the best acts of obedience to which he replied: <<The prayers in their due time>>.
Dear Brothers in Islam, the first physical act of worship one will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement is the prayers and this will be after one is questioned about the belief in Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him.
Allah has made the five obligatory prayers an obligation upon us. Moreover, the one who fulfils this obligation as Allah, the Exalted, ordered, then on the Day of Judgement, these prayers will be as light for him and proof of his faith.
The prayers are the best of which a person would do when in a state of hardship. Prayers comprise the ultimate submission and humbleness to Allah and supplicating and praising Him.
Allah made the prayers a delight and comfort to the one who is experiencing hardships. When faced with a dire situation, the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to pacify himself by ordering Bilal to call for prayer, saying: <<O Bilal, let us have comfort through prayer>>.
Moreover, the Prophet, peace be upon him, encouraged us to perform the optional prayers (sunan) in addition to the five daily obligatory prayers. Al-Bukhariyy narrated from the route of Ibn ^Umar, may Allah raise his rank, that he said: “I learnt from the Prophet peace be upon him to pray ten additional rak^as (i.e., amongst the optional prayers); two rak^as before Dhuhr Prayer and two after it; two rak^as after Maghrib Prayer whilst in his house; two rak^as after Isha^ Prayer whilst in his house and two rak^as prior to performing the Subh Prayer”. In another narration: “two rak^as after Friday Prayer, and in a further narration, “four rak^as before Dhuhr”.
The Prophet peace be upon him used to perform the Rawatib (i.e., the optional prayers associated with the five obligatory prayers), in his home. Al-Bukhariyy narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: << The best prayer is the prayer performed at home except for that which is obligatory>>.
Moreover, Imam Muslim narrated through the route of the wife of the Prophet, Ummu Habibah, may Allah raise her rank, that she heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, say: <<Whoever prays twelve rak^as throughout the day and night, a house will be built for him in Paradise>>. Furthermore, Ummu Habibah also mentioned that the Prophet said: << Whoever prays four rak^as before Dhuhr and four additional rak^as after it, Allah will protect his flesh from Hellfire>>.
Also, it was narrated through the route of Ibn ^Umar, may Allah raise his rank, that the Prophet said :<< May Allah have mercy on the one who prays four rak^as prior to ^Asr Prayer>>.
Do you not wish, dear brothers, to be amongst those whom the Prophet made supplication for? Just imagine the reward you will gain by performing the sunnnah of the Dawn Prayer. It was narrated that the Prophet said: << The reward gained for performing the two optional rak^as associated with the Dawn Prayer, is better than gaining all the pleasures of this world>>. If one of us where to be asked if he would like to know of a method that will gain him one tenth of what this world has, one will promptly reply with a ‘yes’; so think about the act that will give you a reward that is greater than this world and all what it contains, Wallah it is great reward indeed!
As for performing the night prayers, our beloved Prophet peace be upon him was asked by a man, “O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which if I perform I will be admitted into Paradise”. The Messenger replied: << Feed the poor, maintain the tie of kinship, spend the night praying while people are asleep, and you will enter Paradise >>. Imam Muslim also narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, mentioned that the night prayer is the greatest prayer behind that which is obligatory.
And Allah knows best.