4/21/20232 min read

Some Techniques for Successful Prayer

While cleaning out the office, the secretary found an old brass lamp. She was rubbing it and out popped a genie. “You have three wishes.”, it announced. “I wish I was in Hawaii on the beach.”, she responded, and immediately she was there. Her co worker said “I wish I was with her in Hawaii at the beach.”, and suddenly she was there too. The boss was worried about who was going to do all the work in their absence, so he said “I want them back right now.” and they magically reappeared.

Many people think that G-d is like the genie of the magic lamp. Whatever they pray for must be answered. The answer is He is better than a genie because He actually exists, and like a good parent He also knows when to say no. There are certain techniques that our Sages have advised us will make our prayers more acceptable:

• A firm knowledge that Hashem truly exists and is concerned with the welfare of every individual, as we state “Understand, Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One.”

• A person should always pray humbly and never with the attitude that G-d should answer them because of their merits – maybe in G-d’s system of calculations their merits are inadequate. It is also a form of pride that almost guarantees failure.

• A person should pray to G-d to grant his/her desire, even though they do not merit it. In Parashat Vaetchanan, Moshe pleads with G-d to allow him into the Promised Land, even though he did not deserve it, because Hashem is altruistic. He gives despite a person being undeserving. (This is the 3rd middah of the 13 middot – grace, Hashem loves us unconditionally.)

• Thank G-d for everything. Inculcate an attitude of gratitude. Say the appropriate blessing on all situations. Be grateful to Hashem for everything you have, even for a slice of bread (Birkat Hamazon).

• We need a firm belief that Hashem is the provider for humanity. Every day we repeat the Ashre - Psalm 145. One must concentrate on the meaning of the verse "Pote-ach et yadecha ...." [You open your hand and satisfy every living thing with favor]; that Hashem is the provider of munificence.

• It is always more generous and therefore more acceptable to Hashem to pray in the plural, especially for others who need the same thing.

• It is always better to pray with the community (minyan) or whenever possible at the same time as the community prays.

• It is important to mention in our prayers the merit that we have due to our forefathers who were beloved by G-d.