The Adventures of Orthodox Tefilah

My respect for those who regularly pray Shacharit, Minchah and Arvit in a minyan everyday, nearly without fail, has soared higher than ever. As our move to Dallas gets closer (be’ezrat Hashem) and our conversion gets further underway, I’ve been preparing more rigorously. One of the ways I’ve done this is to shore up my tefilah.

Very few in the Messianic world take prayer seriously. And even those who do (not that it has any merit for them since they are idolaters) don’t pray with the proper kavanah. As a former Messianic, I was guilty of all the above but one thing my experiences did teach me was what not to do. There is a nonchalant approach to tefilah in that cursed realm and I’m set to rid all traces of it from my being.

Since Purim, I’ve become meticulous about Netilat Yadayim and I’ve gotten up every morning by at least 5:30 and gone through nearly all the required prayers–although it has been difficult to get in all of Pesukei d’zimra due to work contstraints. IY”H I’ll get up even earlier next week to start getting all of those in. I also hope to get my Rabbi to teach me to lay tefillin Yeminite style! For Minchah and Arvit I’ve been able to pray in the Orthodox shul in town. Before sleeping I’ve also added Kriyat Shema Al HaMitah. This is over three hours of praying in my day! What a spiritual workout!

I’ve noticed an elevation in my day. At this same time, it is hard work. There are times when I dread it and then I hate that I dread it. Then I feel miserable because I’m angry that I hate that I am dreading to pray. Does anyone else go through this? What can I do?

  1. searchinmyroots said:

    Whenever one wonders if others may feel the way they do, the answer is almost always, YES!

    It’s like getting up for work in the morning. Sometimes you wish you could sleep just a few minutes more, but still, you do get up.

    Sometimes I think; “what if I just skip it one day”? But then I know that I will feel guilty that I haven’t embraced G-d as the first thing to do when I wake up. And after I do pray, I feel much better. Sort of like an exercise of the mind. It gets me going and puts me in the right frame of mind for the day.

    I also realize there are many others, and I mean MANY others who start their mornings by doing the same thing. Is there a shortened version you could do if there are time restraints?

    In the end, it is between you and G-d. G-d tells us to be Holy. From what I have learned, the word Holy in Hebrew means to be separate and dedicated.

    The rest is up to us.

    • Prayer does frame the day in a great way even though I know it’s not only about that. I am not aware of shortened versions. My Rabbi has the expectation that I pray everything that can be prayed without a minyan if I am praying alone.

      I don’t know that I agree with “In the end, it is between you and G-d” because Hashem has sent me my Rabbi to work with me and teach me. I think, “in the end,” how we work with our spiritual leaders will factor into the equation.

      • searchinmyroots said:

        After reading your reply, I agree 100%. If you are under the guidance of a Rabbi who is helping guide your journey, then you should listen to his words of wisdom.

        Sorry if I mispoke.

      • No worries.

  2. Almoni said:

    That’s one of the things that makes Judaism interesting. Jewish people pray even when they don’t feel like it! And in fact, that’s probably when they need it the most.

    Obviously you’re under your Rabbi’s supervision in this matter, but maybe you shouldn’t tackle on all of the extra prayers all at once?

    • I believe it is my duty to follow his guidance. If he says pray them all, then I have to strive for that. It is important that converts learn the role of rebbes in their lives. We don’t come from a true knowledge or experience of their authority and direction so we are often inclined to decide what we agree with and then we’ll obey that. I do not think that is the way.

  3. With all this guilt, you’re sounding to sound very Jewish! But prayer is not supposed to be easy. Chazal call it avodah (specifically “avodah sh’b’lev”). And it doesn’t make sense that it should be easy. If you had an appointment with the President today, does that sound easy as pie?

    One of the comments above says “maybe you shouldn’t [take on] all of the extra prayers all at once.” That may be sound advice. “Echad hamarbeh v’echad hamamit, ha’ikar sh’yichaven es libo laShamayim,” i.e. a bit of heartfelt prayer is better than a lot by rote.

    • Thank you for the perspective. You’re right, it is a service and it helps to think of it that way.

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