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HomeFoundations of JudaismHitbodedut (Personal Prayer)Dr. Emuna: Tips and Tricks to Personal Prayer
 
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Dr. Emuna: Tips and Tricks to Personal Prayer    

Dr. Emuna: Tips and Tricks to Personal Prayer



If you want to be healed of any ailment, you need Hashem! Hashem loves you and wants to heal you, it’s much easier than you think.

 



 

Last week, we discussed the need to just do your hour of personal prayer every day, and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t meet your expectations. In Rabbi Arush’s words: “With prayer, with Hashem – without prayer, without Hashem.” If you want to be healed of any ailment, be it of the mind, body or soul – you need Hashem! Therefore, you need to pray. 

 

 

Now, I will explain some tips and tricks to manage the hour of hitbodedut, without getting overwhelmed: 

  

  1. 1. Thank Hashem.  
     
    Spend at least 20 minutes thanking Hashem within your hour, even up to the entire hour at the beginning. Saying thank you is the easiest thing to do! I found over 40 thank you’s based on morning blessings. Spend some time asking Hashem to help you say thank you with your whole heart, and to truly appreciate your life.  
     
    Don’t forget to say thank you for all the spirituality you have, and for all the spiritual abundance you have, down to the smallest mitzvah. Say thank you for the kippah on your head or for your modest scarf. Say thank you for every second of Shabbat that you keep, and every morsel of kosher food that you eat. Say thank you that you are learning emuna! 
     

  1. 2. Divide and conquer.  
     
    Follow Rabbi Arush’s advice to do 30 minutes daily of personal accounting of your last 24 hours since the last personal prayer session, and 30 minutes on one big spiritual thing you need to work on – happiness, peace in the home, anger, sadness, etc.  
     
    Even though you do an hour straight (if you absolutely must, you can break it up into 2 different sessions but it isn’t as good because it takes time to get into it each time), tell yourself – right now I am doing this half hour. 30 minutes feels much more doable than an entire hour! Set a timer and go! You’ll see how the time flies. 
     
    You can even start with 20 minutes of thanking Hashem, followed by 20 minutes reviewing your day, and then 20 minutes on one thing. It isn’t preferable, since Rabbi Arush stresses the need for 30 minutes minimum specifically on the second two items, but if that is what it takes to get you to do it and it works for you, go for it! Again, the trick is to set aside the full hour, but then focus only on 20 minutes at a time. 
     

  1. 3. Keep a personal prayer journal. 
     
    Personally, this tip has helped me immensely. When you have an “ah ha!” moment in your personal prayer, write it down. Write down the most common thank you’s, and the times in your life where Hashem went above and beyond to save you, so you remember to feel gratitude for them more often. Make a list of the things that you want to make sure that you ask Hashem to help you with every single day, and the common mistakes you make so you don’t miss a day doing teshuva for them.  
     
    HaRav recommends even carrying the notebook with you, so that as you think about something that you want to discuss with Hashem, you can write it down before you forget. Now, when you come to your next hitbodedut session, you have something with which to start the conversation. 
     
    You can also pull out the journal whenever you find it difficult to talk. Start going through those lists. You wrote them; they will evoke emotions in you. Usually, this alone is enough to skyrocket you back into pouring your heart out to Hashem. But even if that doesn’t happen, you’ll fill your time with meaningful prayers just the same, just reading through your notes and praying over them. 

 

It is crucial to remember that Hashem wants you to come to the meeting with Him. In fact, Rabbi Arush says that He waits, and longs, and yearns for you to come speak to Him – just like an “empty nester” parent who waits with bated breath for one of his children to call. Rebbe Nachman says that Hashem drops everything else He is doing (so to speak) to come be with you and listen to your personal prayer, to the extent that one single person praying can save the entire world from harsh decrees! Hashem is currently involved with this person speaking to Him, so He isn’t busy with His usual judgments on the world... 

 

 

To Hashem, we aren’t just his children; we are his “mefunak” (in Harav Arush’s words) – his little adorable toddler. The tzaddikim – they might be adults to Hashem, but what are we? Little clueless kids! Come to Hashem (insert 2-year- old voice), “Hashem, pweese, I wuv you. Abba, pweesewanna feel You luv me!” Hopefully you’re laughing, but I am serious. Hashem has no expectations of us and our prayer; drop yours and you’ll discover that most of the time, you’ll do much better than you thought you could. 

 

 

You’ll see that as you get into it, you’ll find this amazing truth that Rabbi Arush talks about in his book In Forest Fields – 6 hours isn’t even enough!!! I want to talk to Hashem about EVERYTHING and there just isn’t time! It’s hard to believe but it's trueDon’t just believe me; try it yourself. 

 

Especially since my 6 hours isn’t exactly Harav Arush’s – I spend a lot of time just sitting, not able to get it out, etc. I speak very little of my “hours.” Sure, I want to be Rabbi Arush, filling every second with more words, more words, building more and more vessels for the blessings… but I am not. I do my best. And at the end of the 6 hours, I am amazed at how much more there is that I want to talk to Hashem about, and I am out of time... 

 

The key is, no matter how much you manage to get out in terms of words for however long you are doing hitbodedut – try to fill them with ratzon – with desire. Really experience just how much you want what you are praying for. If the words are vessels, then the desire is what makes those vessels big, thick and strong. No matter how many words you manage to say – make them superheroes!  

With a lot of desire, it is possible for Hashem to perform miracles, even without long prayer sessions. Don’t despair that for such a huge salvation like you need, you need umpteen amounts of prayers, and you’ll never get there G-d forbid. This is just a lie from the Evil Inclination to weaken your resolve to pray what you can. Rabbi Arush suggests that you pray to Hashem to help you, “Please Hashem, give me the strong and complete desire, such that you can save me right now, on the spot!” 

 

*** 

Dedicated in memory of Rachel bat Yisrael a"h (Gabriella Smith)

 

*** 

Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel. 


Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions and comments to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il.

 





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