▶ Imam Ghazāli (رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْهِ)
mentions the following ten etiquettes for the acceptance of دعاء :
1) Making abundant دعاء in sacred and special times of acceptance. For example, on the day of ῾Arafah, Jumu’ah, in Ramadhān and in the last portion of the nights etc.
2) To make دعاء in specific states. There are certain circumstances in which دعاء are readily accepted. Such as in the state of prostration, at the confrontation of two armies, at the time of rain, before and after salāh etc.
3) To face the qiblah, raise the hands and wipe the hands over the face upon completing the دعاء
4) To have the voice lowered.
5) To invoke اللَّه سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى through words and sentences which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) taught us. It is undesirable to put a lot of effort to make our own rhymes and rhythms in دعاء
6) To display humbleness externally and have the heart submit totally.
7) To have a firm conviction that اللَّهُ will accept the دعاء . One should have full hope that اللَّهُ most definitely will respond to his/her prayer.
8) To persist in دعاء and repeat each invocation at least three times.
9) To commence the دعاء with the praise of Almighty اللَّهُ , sending blessings upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) and to conclude the دعاء with the praise of اللَّهُ and blessings upon the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم
10) One must make sure he has sought the forgiveness of اللَّهُ and sincerely repented before asking اللَّهُ from His bounties.
If one has oppressed anybody or hurt anyone, the oppressed person’s forgiveness must be sought immediately. Tawbah (repentance) is only valid when those whom we have wronged have pardoned us.
In conclusion, one’s دعاء being accepted does not necessarily mean being given what was asked for. If a duā is accepted, we could receive what was asked for, or an impending calamity can be averted, or the دعاء can be reserved for us in the hereafter as reward.