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Jewish prayer: praying to God requires concentration

Jewish prayer: praying to God requires concentration

Saying a prayer properly is not easy. It requires intensive concentration from us. We fall very easily into the thoughtless pronunciation of the words and let ourselves be distracted by our environment. The Hebrew word for concentration is “Kewana” and is an indispensable condition for a true prayer. A Jewish vision of praying to God.

Synagogue

It is important not to sin in holy places such as a synagogue. They mean a disdain for God, an insult to the King in His palace, in His presence. Common prayer can greatly promote our concentration. It is the task of the pastor to promote this. He is the baal tefilla , “the master of prayer” and can try to drag us into his concentration. We, for our part, must be willing to open ourselves to prayer.

Prayer requires psychic energy

Prayer is an activity and requires psychic energy. We need to process its content mentally, to deepen our content more and more. The prayers have been established by the greatest Jewish prophets, thinkers and poets and are rich in thoughts and applicable to any situation. The life experience and wisdom of the greatest Jews are recorded in the prayer book.

We must take the peace and time to let the prayers work on us. It should not become a daily routine. According to the Jewish sages, a prayer is only properly pronounced once a new thought has been discovered in it. With prayers, it will be as if a new light will always shine when there are difficulties on our path of life. And often these luminous words will give us an answer to the problems that concern us.

We speak the prayer for ourselves

We do not speak prayer for God, but for ourselves. On the other hand, feeling the human being’s contact with God is not one-sided on the human side, but God on His part also appreciates this contact. God requires man to contact Him. Love is mutual. In the Song of Songs it says: “I belong to my Friend and my Friend belongs to me.”

Root of prayer is the desire of God

Abraham Joshua Heschel reports that God’s desire that people pray is greater than those who desire to pray. Prayer is only important because God wants it. If God does not want it, then prayer is ridiculous. Rabbi Yitzhak reports that the patriarch Isaac was barren because God wanted him to pray. God requires the prayer of the righteous.

Praying is a duty

Exodus 23:25 states that the Jews must serve God. In Deuteronomy it says that God must be served with all his heart. Only through prayer can God be served with all heart.

Prayer is an answer

Man is actually unable to pray to God. He has no right to do that either. But God first spoke to man and so we must turn to Him. Prayer is an answer.

Prayer of expression and prayer of empathy

In the prayer of expression we present our needs to God. It is the urge to pray that leads to prayer. Only then the word.

With the prayer of empathy there is a form prayer. Here comes the word first and then the feeling. An example of such a prayer is the Eighteen Prayer. The words of this and other form prayers are based on prayer experience from many generations of the wisest and fairest Jews. Thousands of generations of people have purified their thinking and feeling.

The prayer happens to us

Prayer penetrates through heights and depths. It goes from word to word, from thought to thought and from feeling to feeling, Abraham Joshua Heschel reports. We reach a level where words are treasures and meanings are deeply hidden.

Words of prayer also address us

What we ask of God or what is said of God is at the same time an assignment for man. Such is a table prayer and praise in which God feeds the world and gives us the order to make that happen. So prayer confronts us with an assignment. Prayer is a dialogue between God and us.

Prayer must work in our lives

When we pray it is not only about the words, but also that those words will work in our lives.

Prayer must come from the heart

God desires the heart. We must work with good thought and focus on God. It is about kawwana (“focus of the heart”). It’s about attention to God.

Practicing praying

Just as you must learn to play a musical instrument, you must also learn to pray. Thus, the Eighteen Prayer is recited three times a day (in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening). The Jew pays attention to his mission in life at three times of the day.

Praying in the plural

The Eighteen Prayer, like other form prayers, is formulated in the plural. Although prayer is a personal matter, people cannot isolate themselves from the community. It is even dangerous to pray alone. This is unfamiliar. Our relationship to God is a “We to a You relationship.” Prayer is a matter for the individual, supported by the community.

What is the Jewish prayer?

At the most basic level, prayer expresses the belief of Jews in G’d. Jews realize that they are dependent on Gd’s kindness. He controls everything and has the ability to free the Jews from their hardships. That is why Jews ask God for help through prayer. The Torah refers to prayer as “the service to the heart,” an act infused with love and reverence. According to the Chabad philosophy, prayer is actually our primary means of connecting our consciousness to the divine, an island at the time our souls are released, free to rise to heavenly heights. Such a prayer leaves an indelible refinement effect throughout the day.

How often is prayed?

Jews pray three times a day at set times: in the morning (instituted by patriarch Abraham – the Shacharite prayer), in the afternoon (instituted by patriarch Isaac – the Mincha prayer) and in the evening (instituted by patriarch Jacob – the Ma ‘ ariev prayer). The three prayers are centered around the Amida prayer, a series of nineteen blessings. The Shema is also canceled with the morning and evening prayers. Selected Psalms, blessings, and prayers complete the picture.

The rabbis determined the daily prayers to match the two daily Temple sacrifices, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and the burning of the limbs of the afternoon sacrifice that would last all night. This explains why Jews on days like Shabbat, when extra offerings were made,

Form prayers; no personal prayers

Unlike Christianity, all prayers with the Jews are fixed in form prayers, although this was not the case in the beginning. 1 This is important because with your own prayer, your mind can wander. They are also not personal prayers. It is about prayers for all Jews; the Jewish community is central. The texts are in the plural. That is why Jews usually pray together in the synagogue. In fact, a synagogue is considered a miniature replica of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, where Gd’s presence was widespread. Participating with others also gives each individual the power of the community and their collective actions and merits.

The shema

In many prayers the ‘shema’ appears, the Jewish creed that appears in Deuteronomy 6: 4 with the subsequent parts Deuteronomy 6: 5-9, 11: 13-21 and Numbers 15: 37-41.

In addition, one finds many Psalms in the prayers.

The Amida (Shemone-esre)

A very important prayer is the Amida (Shemone-esre, the 18 praises). The amida must be canceled standing up while turning its face in the direction of Jerusalem (to the east). When one is in Jerusalem, one turns the face to the Temple Mount. Some Jews have special signs with the word mizrach (east) hanging on the wall to indicate the direction. This prayer is spoken three times a day. On Shabbat and some holidays, along with a number of additions, even four or five times.

The prayer consists of 18 praises in which Gd is praised for His omnipotence, holiness and loyalty to the people of Israel and for His great deeds and wonders performed for Israel. There are also intercessions and everyday needs. It is also begged for the restoration of the kingship of David and the reconstruction of the Temple and its worship.

Siddur

The prayers are printed in a prayer book, the Siddoer . Herein you will find all the usual prayers that are said during the week or on Shabbat and holidays.

Machzor

People often also have separate prayer books for the holidays. Such a book is called a Machzor (cycle). The prayers are written in Hebrew, some in Aramaic.

Characteristics of prayer in synagogue

  • Everyone prays out loud, often accompanied by a chazzan (lead singer).
  • The prayers are sung. The chazzan sets the tone.
  • People move back and forth during the prayers.

 

Hasidim

In the Hasidim, prayer is seen as the most important religious practice: a mystical encounter with God himself. The intention of prayer is the most important.

 

Footnote

1 Until the time of Ezra, every person would pray according to his ability and eloquence. Someone who was so inclined would offer many long prayers and requests, and someone who was less articulated would pray less. Some would pray once a day; others, multiple times. Ezra, along with the Men of the Great Assembly, established the prayer routine that had already been practiced and formalized by a select number of people.