Thursday, March 06, 2014

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Prayer Problems

Prayer Problems

by Reb Gutman Locks


Adam wrote:

     I’m burnt out. A few years back my father passed away. During the course of observing the mourning period I finally learned how to pray by heart. Now, someone who used to be religious told me; "That’s great but do you know what the words mean, because they should be said with sincerity, a plea for mercy, and with that in mind you should imagine you are standing before a Judge pleading your case. Since you read write and dream in English, then it’s only fitting that your mind and mouth should be on the same page.”

    To be honest I didn’t really care because it was a great feeling just being able to pray in Hebrew. After a while his comment started to bug me because he was right.

    Over time I ended up memorizing the prayers and they started to play over

and over in my head. But instead of getting easier it started to get harder because I had to concentrate on each word until....I burnt out.

     When I raised this topic with friends of mine who are observant, I quickly realized that most can’t translate the prayers either!

     Correct me if I’m wrong but according to Torah one is only required to recite the prayers; “Hear O’ Israel” and the Blessing after meals. Unfortunately once you’ve done the whole shebang, it’s hard to go back to the basics.”


Gutman’s Suggestion:

     When you pray you should imagine that you are talking to your father. It should be a very pleasant experience. At the very least, after each section of the structured prayers, before you go on to the next, add a short prayer in English, saying whatever your heart really wants to say.

     Slow down, have a nice talk to G-d, and see how you feel.

     How often do you say, “thank You” to Him? How many times a day do you say, “I love You” to Hashem? How many times a day would you like your children to say these things to you? It seems what should be a pleasant experience has become a burden to you!

     What is the difference between speaking to a police officer who is about to arrest you, and speaking to your wife? G-d is not only our Judge. He is also our most intimate Advisor, our beloved Creator. When Jews scream out their prayers they are showing that they feel that G-d is very far from them, and that He does not listen to them. But you know that G-d dwells within us, and hears our every thought. The frustrating problem is not so much that G-d does not answer, but that we do not hear His answers.

     “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”[1] During the month of Elul, leading up to the New Year, we prepare to come before the King for judgment, and at this most fearful time, we remind ourselves that G-d is our Beloved.

     If you think of G-d only as the policeman who is about to arrest you for murder, it is no wonder you have burnt out.

     But if you remember that the very goal of life is to reveal G-d’s Presence, which is called the Shechina, and that the Shechina is feminine, you will start to pray to Hashem as if you are whispering to your wife…a very pleasant experience.



[1] Shir HaShirim 6:3


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