Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Do You Know if Prayer is Working?

Isn't that the question?

When learning something new - a hobby or sport, isn't it normal to ask the instructor, "Is this the right way to do it?"  A coach's job is to be there for instructional purposes, to talk strategy and dole out advice to improve performance.  Most of the time there is a measurable result that lets you know if the act is accomplished or if it failed.  For example, shooting a basketball, if the ball goes in you have clearly succeeded - unless you don't get another basket in the rest of the practice.

Shouldn't the same approach work for tefilla?  Do your students ask you this question?  When was the last time someone asked you for advice on improving your kavanah (intention or direction in prayer?

Most of the advice I have gleaned on this topic comes from books and I only have had rare opportunities to speak to master davener about their tips and secrets.  Who can answer this question? I fear not me - but I feel it is worthwhile to ask.

1 comment:

  1. I suggets you review the various cases in Tanach that describe those who prayed. See the Patriarchs, Matriarchs, Chana, Eliezer (at the well), Moshe, Joshua, etc. Study the details of what they requested, how they prayed, and how and when God responded. This will offer you God's authentic direction on this matter.

    You must also study their conduct when not in prayer, meaning their daily lives. This displays their understanding that human activity must not be abandoned. They understood there is no guarantee that they will receive that for which what they prayed. Abraham was certainly most righteous. So were the matriarchs. Why did God not respond to their prayers sooner? Chazal answer, "God loves the prayers of the righteous." This means their prayers assisted them all in greater perfection. So God prolonged their duration of childlessness so they might further perfect themselves and their requests. But they were Prophets. They earned greater providence.

    There are many aspects to this and I am sure much has been discussed on the gemaras.

    This is no small question you ask! But delve into it. I'd appreciate hearing your findings as you progress.