Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
During the High Holidays we increase the number of our prayers. We acknowledge God’s kingship, beseech Him to forgive us and ask Him to grant us a new year filled with blessings. How do we make these prayers sincere and effective?
Prayer is a gift from our Creator, the opportunity to speak directly with the King of kings. We benefit most from our private audience with Him – when we realize we are in fact having one. Before praying, mentally set aside other matters and talk to yourself about the vital activity you are about to do:
“I am about to speak to my Father and Creator. He is the all powerful and infinitely wise King of the world. He created and sustains the entire universe.I can’t do anything without His help and everything comes only from Him.Anything I want, He can give me.My Father loves me and wants to hear from me.He listens and cherishes every word I say.Every word brings blessing to me, my family, my people and the world – sometimes in ways I don’t understand.I let go of all extraneous thoughts, stress and tension.”
(Take a deep breath; while exhaling slowly through the mouth, feel any stress and tension draining out. Do this for at least two breaths.)
We need help with everything in our lives, and prayer is no exception. Ask God to help you pray with fervor, singing His glory and yearning for His assistance and closeness.
Three keys will help unlock the hidden power of prayer. The first is to understand the meaning of the words in the prayer book. If you do not understand some or all of the words, find a translation that works best for you. Two formats that allow you to read the Hebrew while looking at the translation are the Linear by Metsudah and the Interlinear by ArtScroll.
Praying without comprehension is like putting on clothes in pitch darkness – you will get dressed but not necessarily in a satisfactory manner. Focus on mastering one small section at a time. Zero in on the meaning of each phrase, cherishing and savoring them.
The prayer book was composed by the Sages through Divine inspiration. When we say the very words that have sustained our people for thousands of years, we connect with an incredible source of spiritual power.
When you get distracted during prayer and start to think about something else, gently remind yourself that prayer will help you more with that issue than ruminating about it. Then, bring your attention back to the meaning of the words. Do not be discouraged if you need to do this dozens of times; every word you say with intention is another success.
Use the issues that distract you to enhance your prayers. During pertinent sections, think about concerns weighing on you, personal and collective, to infuse a sense of urgency and bring new meaning to the words.
The second key is to pray with feeling. To begin with, slow down the speed at which you pray; we can talk faster than we feel. Give yourself time for the meaning and feeling behind the words to sink into your heart and stir your soul.
Another tool to help feel our prayers is silently asking questions during prayer. For example, “How would I say these words if I really meant them?” For the sections where we make specific requests, “How would I say these words if I would receive these blessings only if I prayed for them?” For the sections that praise God, “How would I say these words if I were bursting with gratitude to the Almighty for all that He does for me and my family?” Lastly, “How would I say these words if I knew for certain God is listening?”
The final key is to imagine that God is right before you and you are having an intimate conversation with Him. The great sage Nachmanides, in Iggeret HaRamban, wrote, “In all your words, actions and thoughts, at all times, imagine in your heart that you are standing before the Holy One, Blessed is He, and that His Presence is upon you; for His glory fills the universe ” (See A Letter for the Ages by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer).
By following Ramban’s advice during prayer, the words will come alive and directly connect you to your Creator. With practice comes the thrilling experience of feeling God’s presence listening to your prayers.
Use these keys not only with the prayer book but also when reciting Psalms. They will help you claim the treasure King David left for each one of us. Soon, you will be able to say to God with conviction, “And now, for what do I hope O Lord? My longing is for You” (Psalms 39:8).
Every prayer is a new beginning, a new opportunity to come close to your Creator. Fortify yourself and start fresh with each prayer. Even if you think a prayer did not go well, the mere effort you put into it is precious to your Father and will bring you one step closer to Him.
As you persist, God will open your heart and you will begin to feel a deep sense of being nourished by your Creator and united with Him.
Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City. Visit his blog at yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.
About the Author: Yaakov Weiland has an MSW from Fordham School of Social Service and lives in New York City. Visit his blog at yaakovweiland.blogspot.com.
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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
Can you recall any time you hurt someone, perhaps a friend, neighbor, family member, fellow congregant or business associate?
We are now in the Three Weeks, a time of national mourning for the Jewish people. Of the numerous tragedies that occurred throughout history during this period, the central one we grieve is the destruction of both Temples; they were destroyed on Tisha B’Av, the culmination of the Three Weeks.
On Shavuot we celebrate God giving us the Torah, represented by the Ten Commandments. We will explore them here through a broad lens, showing how they apply to our daily lives. We will focus on the First Commandment, the foundation, and the seven commandments phrased in the negative, which tell us what not to do, discussing both sides: the negative (avoiding what God hates) and the hidden side, the positive (doing what He loves).
In my Nov. 26 op-ed article, “The Clarifying Truths of Chanukah,” I explored how clarity, purity and joy bring us close to God and to living a meaningful life. If they are so essential, their potential must exist within our spiritual DNA. I suggest it does; we inherited that potential from our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Ever wonder why the Jewish New Year begins with three back-to-back-to back holidays and then no biblical holidays for another six months?
The ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico has been declared the worst oil spill in American history. It occurred when an offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing eleven crew members and causing an oil pipe, 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, to rupture. BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, is the fourth largest company, of any type, in the world. Shockingly, BP’s efforts, backed by America, have not stopped the flow.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/unlocking-the-hidden-power-of-prayer/2011/09/27/
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