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Women's Corner

Acquiring Intent in Our Prayer

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe
Monday, August 18, 2014/Ab 22, 5774

We are told, in the name of Rabbenu Hayyim Wital, 'a"h, the student of the Ari z"l, 'a"h, that as special as prayer is, as we get closer to the coming of the Mashiyah, it will have an even more special meaning. Therefore, we should make it our business to chase after, improve and polish our prayer.

People often ask: how is it possible to pray with the proper intent and concentration, when there are so many distractions and obstacles standing in the way.

One important principle, which may help, is to actually visualize and feel as if we are standing in front of the Holy One blessed be He. We should try to feel and sense His greatness, His might, His loving kindness and mercy. It is not an easy task, in fact it is quite a difficult one, because we cannot actually see our Creator.

Perhaps we should introspect and ask ourselves whether we are focusing on ourselves or G-d while we pray. Do we feed our own self importance, or realize that we are actually nothing, especially when we are standing in front of Him.

We see a clear example which illustrates this by comparing Pharaoh's dream to that of Ya'aqob Abinu's 'a"h. In describing Pharaoh's dream, the Torah says: "and behold! he was standing over the Nile". (Bereshith, 41:17). Although he considered the Nile to be his god, he still felt superior and is described as standing on the Nile.

In the dream of Ya'aqob Abinu on the other hand, it says: "And behold! G-d was standing over him" (Bereshith, 28:13).  He understood that when standing in front of G-d, one must realize His greatness. The greater our ego is, the harder it is for us to focus and concentrate during our prayer. When we pray, we are too busy with ourselves, our plans and our priorities. We will discover deeper meaning and satisfaction in our prayer if we learn and internalize the greatness, the might and kindness of our G-d, to whom all our prayers are directed.

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