Powered by WebAds

Thursday, August 04, 2005


AskShifra put up a great post about Tefilla, and the struggle she feels when asked to pray for someone in need of God's help. The post is refreshing, and says what many must feel.

It's hard to pray.

Especially since prayer is something that should be done on a daily basis, to "check in" with God, so to speak, and not just when we have a particular request. As Shifra says, when she gets an e-mail request to daven for someone or something specific,
I wish I could dive right into tehillim every time I got an email like that but I can't.
The best I could probably offer is lip service and don't you think God would see right through that? Unless I'm feeling particularly spiritual or I'm close to the situation at hand there is no way I can pray meaningfully about it. I don't know these people, God is WAY up there, and who am I? I'm nobody, a sinner, who doesn't pray unless she wants something and now you expect me to bring your mother, cousin, neighbor, friend and sister a MIRACLE?! I can't do it.
I'll make a similar admission to Shifra's: I have trouble praying too.

I find it difficult to muster up the proper kavanah (concentration) on a regular basis. It's a heck of a lot easier, on the other hand, to muster up the proper frame of mind when you have a specific request to make of God. When someone is (God forbid) sick, when there is a family crisis, these are all situations where I, and I'm sure many others, have no problem summoning up the proper intent when communing with God. But the day-to-day recitation of prayers? Who doesn't fall into the trap of muttering them as a matter of routine?

DovBear pointed out yesterday that the World-Wide Shema campaign was "philosophically unsound, and theologically vulgar". I'm not sure I fully agree with him, but he has a point. We say Shema how many times a day? Does each and every one of us have the right concentration each time we do so? I'll bet not. But I'm also willing to bet that yesterday, people who mumble Shema so many times daily with little more kavanah than they have when making a conference call, were able to beseech God to protect Klal Yisrael with all the kavanah they had in them.

What's the solution? Is there even one? It stands to reason that human nature has us praying harder when things aren't going well. It's hard to focus on thanking God when things are (Baruch Hashem) going smoothly. And let me be clear, I know that this thinking is a fallacy. We should, instead, have so much more to say to God when things are going smoothly. We should be thanking Him, begging Him to keep things at status quo. But how to keep that important concept in the forefront of my mind, day in, and day out? I have no idea.


Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

The standard tefillas are too long to possibly have kavana. In the typical 30-minute shachris derby at my shul, there is no time to say simple, beautiful prayers like adon olam, for example, let alone with kavana.

Of course, if we were to shorten tefillas shachris, people would insist on 25 or 20 minute minyanim.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Prayer is very tough, it is not easy to do. For me it is almost always tough and somewhat frustrating.

3:58 PM  
Blogger CJ Srullowitz said...

I consider davening to be, lulei demistafina, one of the five hardest obligations of a Torah Jew today.

But while we don't necessarily feel it's importance--especially during the good times, as you point out--we know (or should know!) how vital it is.

I find that learning about tefillah makes a (sometimes small) difference. Also, even if you can only drum up enough kavanah for one brachah, that's a terrific start.

4:19 PM  
Blogger projgen said...

I used to be an Emergency Medical Technician. Quite frequently, we would have "drills" to practice our skills. Fake car accidents, fake chemical spills, fake injuries... we knew they were fake, so we didn't always treat all the "patients" quite as sincerely as we should have. All this was to prepare us for the day when, G-d forbid, we would need these skills for real, when we would treat our patients with the proper skills and sincerity.

I look at daily tefillah as these drills. When I daven schachrit, it's not always (okay, it's rarely) with the proper kavanah. Usually, my mind is half on what I need to do for the day or how good that first cup of coffee is going to taste. But it's all prep work, building the foundation for those days when I really need to talk to G-d, when I really need to ask for help. I've put in the practice, so I know what to do.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a whole shittah out there that believes that words of tefillah or tehillim or psukim or whatever, have their own power, regardless of the kavanah. This ends up in "let's all say tehillim" or "let's have a kids' rally" projects that I find meaningless. My kids were in camp for the worldwide shma thing and it was emphasized so much that it just felt like another indoctrination bit. Being two and four, they don't know and don't really care about the politics in Israel. It just seemed empty. Like if you really care about the whole Israel thing, don't you think G-d would much rather hear from a crying, sincere person than from a bunch of tired, cranky and hungry two year olds ?

3:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Tax Return Crack-Up<3>
Granted, there are usuallyMicrosoft Office 2010write-ups when presidential contenders make their tax returns available, but the coverage falls far short of the Office 2010
full court press (pardon the pun) that the Clintons have received. What's Microsoft Office 2007different now?Office 2007One possibility is that most upper middle class Democrats, and therefore most Microsoft OfficeOffice 2007 keyeditors and reporters of our nation's big papers as well as Office 2007 downloadtelevision producers, are Obama supporters who think that Hillary should hurry up Office 2007 Professionaland drop out of the race already.Microsoft outlook
Microsoft outlook 2010Whom elite liberals are pulling for really does shape political coverage in ways

3:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home