Innovative Prayer

I’ve lately been able to refocus my more energy on prayer.  After weeks of saying words without proper intention, I suppose the High Holidays kicked me into gear.

But saying lines and lines of words I’ve said now hundreds of times before makes it difficult.  I want to just rush through until I get to שמע קולנו, the part of the Amidah where you can insert your personal requests.  Because I want to really have a relationship with Gd.  And saying pre-formulated words does not often do the trick.

Upon reading this article on updating Jewish prayer and prayer services for the modern era, I was relieved to find that I am not struggling alone.  It’s true, at least based on an informal survey of friends who prayer regularly and my own observations that, “It’s a rare soul who actually reads the two millennia’s worth of accumulated prayers that, for example, are supposed to be recited each weekday morning,” as the article says.

If I were to say all of the standard prayers each weekday morning, not to mention the order of sacrifices, it would take me about 30 minutes.  And I’m then supposed to have the time and energy to enter in all of my personal thanks and requests?  A tall order.  I like to workout in the a.m. too!

I suppose here I identify more with the philosophy of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), who advocated hitboddedut, going out into nature in solitude and approaching Gd honestly.  For more on this, see the movie Ushpizin, which also happens to be a great movie for Sukkot!

Walking home at the end of Yom Kippur with a friend, I expressed my frustration with a disconnect to nature in the traditional, synagogue-bound prayer services.

“Sounds like you’d be a good Hassid” she said.

I just want to ditch the siddur prayer book sometimes, but the Jewish guilt always gets me in.  Nevermind what I feel or what’s getting me down.  The Sages thought of what I need already and what I’m supposed to be saying.  Right?


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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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