Sometimes our prayers may be devoid of enthusiasm. At such times, Rebbe Nachman tells us, we must compel our emotions and make our hearts burn with the meaning of the words we are saying.
Sometimes a person rouses their emotions and actually makes themselves angry. As the expression goes in Yiddish, “Er schnitzt zich ein roigez – He creates his own anger.”
We must do the same during prayer. Be like the man who makes himself angry. Work yourself up and bring heat and a flaming heart into your prayers. The enthusiasm may be forced at first, but eventually it will become real. Your heart will burst aflame with G-d’s praise, and you will be worthy of praying with passion.
Rebbe Nachman tells us we can make ourselves happy in the same way, particularly during our prayers. “Pray with great joy, even if this happiness is forced. Happiness is always a virtue, but it is especially so during prayer” (Likutey Moharan I, 282).
If we are disturbed and unhappy, we can at least put on a happy front. Deep down, we may be depressed, but if we act happy, we will eventually be worthy of true joy.
This is true of every holy thing. If you have no enthusiasm, put on a front. Act enthusiastic and the feeling will eventually become genuine.
(Adapted from Sichos Haran #74)