“I don’t feel anything when I read these words.”
“One day I’m inspired, the next day it’s gone.”
Is prayer begging? Is it simply reflective? Do our words make a difference? This chapter will present the Jewish concept of prayer from a new angle. Prayer is not simply a routine request for one’s needs. The Hebrew word, in its origin, connotes struggle and connection. We will examine a more precise function of prayer as it relates to the inner battle, where moments of solitude can stimulate the power of love and spiritual sensitivity. We will arrive at a dual accomplishment with prayer—a sense of strengthening the soul and shaping one’s mindset throughout the day.
Looking at prayer in the context of “an inner war,” we will provide some analogies to explain. We will provide an analogy of “alignment” from martial arts where prayer helps shape the mindset. Without prayer to begin the day, one’s emotions and thoughts are chaotic. Images from the subconscious linger in the mind. Nervous energy flows. The soul is bouncing around below the static, trying to surface, while the person drinks coffee to get alert and rushes to the meet the day. But the soul, having been denied its place, cannot circulate and guide. She is restless. Consequently, the mind is dull, emotions rule, and everything inside the person is unaligned, out of whack.
Setting aside time for daily prayer, especially in the morning when laziness is at full strength, is also one of the most important tools to loosen the grip of the animal soul. Citing key Jewish prayers, we will present the image of a ladder, whose base is planted on the ground and whose rungs stretch toward the heavens.
This is not the typical religious love, or softness, but a powerful attraction that takes work to uncover. We will distinguish between inherent love (i.e., parent/child) and created love (a love born of contemplation and experience), and how these two forms function and express themselves.