The True Purpose of Prayer

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The True Purpose of Prayer

Michael Berg
June 26, 2013
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Occasionally in life, we are confronted with overwhelming circumstances that can leave us feeling hopeless. No matter what actions we may take, the issue remains unresolved. Oftentimes we feel as if we are all alone in the face of adverse conditions.

We are not alone. We have an entire community ready to assist us on our spiritual path.

To help us manifest our needs and desires, has initiated a Prayer List, in which Kabbalah Centre students from around the world can offer prayers and meditations directly from the Zohar to support people in need. Simply select a subject and fill out the form to submit your prayer request, or download our prayer list to begin praying for others.

The True Purpose of Prayer

Have you ever said a prayer with all your heart and soul, and felt that your prayer wasn’t answered? To understand what this really means, it’s important to see that prayer is not just a way to ask for and receive gifts from on high. Much more important, prayer is a means for gaining closeness and connection with the Creator. This is the real benefit and the true purpose of prayer.

This is made clear in a famous teaching from the Rav of Kotzk. In speaking with his students, the Rav pointed out that, after the sin of Adam, the serpent was cursed to eat dust for all his life. But why was this a punishment, when dust was all the serpent really needed? The Rav of Kotzk explained that this was exactly the point. Since all his needs were met, the serpent would never have reason to truly connect with God. The things we lack in our lives are the very things that awaken our connection with the Creator.

Below is an excerpt from the Zohar that help us give power to our prayers

תְּנָן, אָמַר ר' יְהוּדָה, אֵין לָךְ דָּבָר בַּחֲבִיבוּתָא קָמֵי קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, כְּמוֹ תְּפִלָּתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים, וְאַף עַל גַּב דְּנִיחָא לֵיהּ, זִמְנִין דְּעָבֵיד בָּעוּתְהוֹן, זִמְנִין דְּלָא עָבֵיד.

253. We learned that Rabbi Yehuda said, There is nothing that is so cherished by the Holy One, blessed be He, as the prayers of the righteous. Even though it pleases Him, sometimes He grants their request and sometimes He does not.

ת"ר, זִמְנָא חֲדָא הֲוָה עָלְמָא צְרִיכָא לְמִטְרָא, אָתָא רִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, וְגָזַר אַרְבְּעִין תַּעֲנִיתָא, וְלָא אָתָא מִטְרָא, צַלֵּי צְלוֹתָא, וְלָא אָתָא מִטְרָא. אָתָא רִבִּי עֲקִיבָא, וְקָם וְצַלֵּי, אָמַר מַשִּׁיב הָרוּחַ, וְנָשַׁב זִיקָא, אָמַר וּמוֹרִיד הַגֶּשֶׁם, וְאָתָא מִטְרָא. חָלַשׁ דַּעְתֵּיהּ דְּרִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, אִסְתָּכָּל רִבִּי עֲקִיבָא בְּאַנְפּוֹי

254. The sages have taught that one time the world needed rain. Rabbi Eliezer came and decreed forty fasts, but rain did not come. He prayed, but rain did not come. Rabbi Akiva came, stood and prayed. He said, “He makes the wind to blow,” and the wind blew strong and powerful. He said, “And He makes the rain fall” and rain came. Rabbi Elazar was crestfallen. Rabbi Akiva looked into his face AND SENSED HE WAS DISCOURAGED.

קָם רִבִּי עֲקִיבָא קָמֵי עַמָּא וְאָמַר, אֶמְשׁוֹל לָכֶם מָשָׁל, לְמַה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, רִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר דָּמֵי לִרְחִימָא דְּמַלְכָּא, דְּרָחִים לֵיהּ יַתִּיר, וְכַד עָאל קָמֵי מַלְכָּא, נִיחָא לֵיהּ, וְלָא בָּעֵי לְמַיתָן לֵיהּ בָּעוּתֵיהּ בִּבְהִילוּ, כִּי הֵיכִי דְּלָא לִיתְפְּרַשׁ מִנֵּיהּ, דְּנִיחָא לֵיהּ דְּלִישְׁתְּעֵי בַּהֲדֵיהּ. וַאֲנָא דָּמֵי לְעַבְדָּא דְּמַלְכָּא, דְּבָעָא בָּעוּתֵיהּ קָמֵיהּ, וְלָא בָּעֵי מַלְכָּא דְּלֵיעוּל לְתַרְעֵי פַּלְטֵרִין, וכ"ש דְּלִישְׁתְּעֵי בַּהֲדֵיהּ, אָמַר מַלְכָּא, הָבוּ לֵיהּ בָּעוּתֵיהּ בִּבְהִילוּ, וְלָא לֵיעוּל הָכָא. כַּךְ רִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אִיהוּ רְחִימָא דְּמַלְכָּא, וַאֲנָא עַבְדָּא, וּבָעֵי מַלְכָּא לְאִשְׁתְּעֵי בַּהֲדֵיהּ כָּל יוֹמָא, וְלָא יִתְפְּרִישׁ מִנֵּיהּ. וַאֲנָא, לָא בָּעֵי מַלְכָּא דְּאִיעוּל תַּרְעֵי דְּפַלְטֵרִין. נָח דַּעְתֵּיהּ דְּרִבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר

255. Rabbi Akiva stood up before the people and said, I will give an example similar to the situation. Rabbi Eliezer is compared to the friend of the king, who is cherished exceedingly. And when he appears before the king, he is very pleasantly accepted, and the king does not want to grant him his wish quickly so that he will not leave him, because it is so pleasant to speak with him. But I am likened to the servant of the king who makes a request of him, and the king does not want him to enter the gates of the palace, and naturally does not want to speak to him. The king says, Grant his request immediately and do not let him enter here. Similarly, Rabbi Eliezer is the friend of the King and I am a servant. The king desires to speak with him constantly and not to be away from him. But as for me, the King does not want me to enter the gates of the palace, THEREFORE HE GRANTS MY WISH IMMEDIATELY. Rabbi Eliezer regained his composure.

-The Zohar, Shemot.

Prayer Meditation

This meditation awakens our understanding of the true meaning of prayer, which is to connect deeply with the Creator, and it empowers our prayers to make that connection.

רִבִּי  אֱלִיעֶזֶר  דָּמֵי  לִרְחִימָא  דְּמַלְכָּא,  דְּרָחִים
derachim   demalka   lirchima   damei   Eliezer   Ribbi

לֵיהּ  יַתִּיר,  וְכַד  עָאל  קָמֵי  מַלְכָּא,  נִיחָא  לֵיהּ,  וְלָא
vela   leih   nicha   malka   kamei   a’al   vechad   yatir   leih

בָּעֵי  לְמַיתָן  לֵיהּ  בָּעוּתֵיהּ  בִּבְהִילוּ,  כִּי  הֵיכִי  דְּלָא
dela   heichi   ki   bivhilu   ba'uteih   leih   lemaytan   ba’ei

לִיתְפְּרַשׁ  מִנֵּיהּ,  דְּנִיחָא  לֵיהּ  דְּלִישְׁתְּעֵי  בַּהֲדֵיהּ
bahadeih   delishte’ei   leih   denicha   mineh   litperash

Rav Eliezer is like a cherished friend of the king. When he appears before the king, he is greeted and very pleasantly accepted. The king does not want to grant him his wish quickly, because it is so pleasant to speak with him.

-The Zohar, Shemot v.255.

This article is an excerpt from Secrets of the Zohar by Michael Berg. Learn more about this book and other Zohar related reading material at