Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On A Prayer

I pick up my siddur, kiss it reverently, and begin to daven. I close my eyes and connect with my beloved Father in Heaven. I love the experience. I love the opportunity to connect with Hashem, leaving all life's distractions behind.

I'm lying.

I don't look forward to davening. In fact, I dread it.

Davening is a challenge for me. I have trouble focusing, clearing my mind, and getting to a place where I can concentrate. I can't let go of the million things I need to do, and take the time to just daven.

And I'm bored.

There. I said it.

When I was a kid, I loved davening. I loved the singing...the chanting out loud with the whole class... There was such joy in it. Such passion.

I knew to Whom I was praying and what it was I was praying for. I had a clear focus and I genuinely felt a connection when I emotional connection.

Slowly, that disappeared. At some point, davening became a task...a chore. I no longer felt that solace - the comfort - I once felt when praying. I still davened, of course. But it became...mechanical.

I'd stand there, recite the prayers, and even comprehend most of them. I'd say the words, stand when I was supposed to stand and bow when I was supposed to bow. But the whole thing became more of a familiar ritual than a direct connection to a Higher Power. The words were there...the motions were was all there - except for the emotion.

And I still davened.

I said the words, most just stumbling carelessly out of my mouth amidst thoughts of appointments I needed to arrange, deadlines at work, and laundry waiting to be folded.

After a while, I began to become....bored with davening.

It's been quite a while since I davened.

Well, that's not really true. I talk to Hashem all the time. (Please...please...find me a parking spot...) I daven at home on Shabbos, so I can be a role model to my daughters. And I actually enjoy davening the few times a year that I go to shul.

But the enthusiasm wore off. The emotion is gone.

And so, I find it difficult to work up the necessary feeling to daven. Sometimes I still go through the motions, but the emotional impact has been lost to me for a long time.

I miss it.



  1. I find myself distracted a lot. And sometimes I secretly feel frustrated and dread it....

    But I also find that when I'm in pain, I know how to daven. Those hard times bring it out in me.

    And then I feel doubly bad for spacing out and missing tefillos during the good times. When I need something I pray, but when I don't, I gloss over His praise and service?'s a process....

    Let me ask you. Do you ever notice a specific time or situation where you concentrate more, "feel it" more, want to connect more...?

  2. Corner Point...

    "Let me ask you. Do you ever notice a specific time or situation where you concentrate more, "feel it" more, want to connect more...?"

    I do. When I daven in shul, especially on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I love the davening. The feeling is there..the emotion is there...I'm inspired...and I can sit there davening all day. And I do.

    Maybe it's the davening with a Baal Tefillah that helps me focus...maybe it's the singing...maybe it's just cuz I don't have a thousand things that I need to be doing at that moment. I know I'm there for the day, and it's Yom Tov, so I can just concentrate on the davening. I don't know what it is, but that's the only time.

  3. I understand the importance of prayer, and yet, much like our Mystery Blogger, on the High Holy days, it's especially poignant. Almost like when the hype of the Superbowl is felt in the stadium palatably, versus the exhibition game in the spring. I guess where we all seem to lose it is in the daily monotonous was we go about about it. Any other ol' day. Like brushing your teeth, it is something we do, it feels devoid of meaning. Running to shul, parking by a pump, thinking about why you didn't pick up the cleaners, and how you could've REALLY told your boss off, all while swaying and telling god the same verbatim god-damned thing you told him yesterday, the day before, and will hopefully tell him tomorrow, which is the exact words the fat guy with body odor is saying at the same time, only he's doing the side by side shuffle instead of the front-back sway, as that is easier on the equilibrium and center of gravity of his huge body mass . Feels meaningless, and a bit shallow. I love the sight of of the long bearded guy, 6:30 am in the freezing cold, walking down the street and davening while walking. Wasup with that? I assume God can discern between lips moving in prayer versus simple teeth clattering in the cold. God can tell. Even through the thick white freezing vapor on his breath, God must be touched by the meaningful sentiment of what he is saying.

    I'm not gonna plug other religions, but it's interesting sometimes to hear a different perspective. I was once in a cab with a Sikh driver, talking about prayer. He said to me. "Pray? we don't pray! who do you think you are to TALK to GOD?? Rediculous!". He explained to me, that they don't pray. the "meditate". And all it is, is closing your eyes, shutting off all distractions and THINKING deeply about who you really are. How can you feel CLOSE to god, and try to connect spiritually that way. According to them, God wants them to get close to him by drawing their minds to mesh with godliness, and not "talking" to him, not "asking" for anything from him. No, I'm not buying it, just bouncing off some perspective.

    Oh... gotta run! Mincha! God is wondering what I have to say to him today, let me go and make his day.....

  4. Maybe saying the whole tefila is a bit overwhelming. Perhaps you could choose just one prayer (Shema Yisrael or Ashrei, for example)that has meaning for you and just recite that one. It might help you get some of the feeling back.

  5. Menachem...

    That may be a part of what it is...the same thing every day, to the point where it becomes monotonous and loses meaning. But it's not all of it.
    Not sure I agree with the rest of your comment, though. I don't believe G-d has any problem with everyone saying the same words as everyone else...every day. We may find it tedious, but Hashem does not.


    Good idea. I'm trying that. Can't say I'm having much success...

  6. I love davening...
    especially on shabbos..
    You have to dig deeper than just the words...there's so much depth to the tefillos..and kabbalistic meaning...
    It must be harder for women..who dont get to express themselves as much as men do by davening..but I love saying it out loud...finding a rhythm...walking up and down..
    its all a grand choreography of the soul..

  7. David...

    Do you love the davening? Or do you love the davening in shul? Would you feel the same if you davened every day at home, just before you're running out to work?