Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Purpose of Prayer?!

I was travelling last week and found myself reading a copy of Jewish Action, not my usual periodical but a good read nonetheless.  As I was thirsty for information I really read every page, including the letters and found this interesting tefilla gem:

I was quite disturbed by the message conveyed in the article “How Was Your Davening?” (fall 2012). The author states that the only criterion by which to rate his davening is to see whether or not his prayers were answered. This is a gross misunderstanding of the purpose of our davening. 
We do not provide a laundry list of requests to God, and then sit back to see if we receive them. The purpose of davening is to improve our relationship with the Borei Olam and to grow spiritually. On Rosh Hashanah especially, the davening is not about requests. It is about declaring God to be our King. Of course we ask Him to provide us with our needs in order to serve Him properly, but emunah implies having faith that God alone knows what is best for us. If He does not “do as we ask,” then we must believe that what we asked for wasn’t in our best interests. 
Donna Keilson
Lawrence, New York
Steve Lipman, the author, replied here and raised a tremendous point about evaluating tefilla:
A more objective, admittedly external, way of evaluating one’s davening is to see if God granted any of the requests asked of Him. If God responded “no” to every single request, then perhaps one is doing something wrong.

That is some serious food for thought and an interesting pedagogical approach to teach our students. What do you think? 

No comments:

Post a Comment