Whenever an army general would report to Sayyidna Umar with difficulties in their affairs, the first thing Umar would inquire was, "How is the state of the soldiers and their salat?"
This is the beginning of everything. We want Allah's support all the time, and He only asks us to touch base five times a day.
The 12 sunnas that the Prophet peace be upon him never left off fill in the parts in which we were not focusing in the obligatory prayers. They are:
2 before Fajr 4 before Dhuhr & 2 after 2 after Maghrib 2 after Isha ------------ 12 Total
Add Shaf' & Witr, which are 2 & 1. That makes 15 rak'as total that fill in the gaps from the 17 Fard rak'as.
One of the first signs of misguidance and the death of the heart is downgrading the importance of salat. And in contrast, one of the greatest signs of Allah being pleased with a servant is that they find sweetness in the obligatory prayer.
It is said: Salat is like other things in that if you want to get better at it, you need to do more of it. The sign that the tarawih of Ramadan are accepted is that one begins doing the sunnas with consistency outside Ramadan.
After Sayyidna Umar returned to consciousness after he was stabbed, the first thing he asked about was the salat. The same happened with Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal after he was lashed.
The five prayers are the pillars of stability for a Muslim's life. To the degree that he cares for them, Allah guards his affairs, but if he rushes them and is sloppy, then it will catch up with him, and in his time of need, he will regret not giving salat its due.
Until today there are people who pray all five prayers in jama'a in the masjid. An older man, whom I see all the time entering the mosque for salat came up to me and asked, "What does one do if he misses the first rak'a of salat?" I said he stands after the imam finishes and does one more rak'a. An evil thought came to my mind: how can someone pray in the mosque all these years and not know that. But before I could push that thought away, another realization hit me like a lightning bolt: the man is never late to prayer! He arrives well before the iqama, so he never had any need for that answer. This is how much he honors the prayer.
The Prophet peace be upon him said, "Everything has a cream, and the cream of the prayer is the opening takbir behind the imam." And he said, peace be upon him, if you knew the reward for praying in the first saff, you would unsheath your swords for it.
A wise man said, "Allah has veiled the reward of salat in the jama'a in the masjid because if it was shown to people, they would all camp out in the masjid saving their spot and nobody would ever work."
May Allah always keep our hearts alive, loving deen and everything that draws us near to Him in youth and in old age until death. Ameen.