Davening is a burden?

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  • #592585
    SmartTeen
    Member

    I am looking for a way to get myself to want to daven. For about the past 2 years, I have only been davening in school when we are ”forced to” or when my mother makes sure I do. When we are on vacation or on Sundays.. I don’t. I guess most of the reason I don’t like to is because I feel it is useless. For many years I was stuck in a few difficult situations and the whole time I would daven every day, but nothing ever changed so I lost hope. Can anyone help me?

    Also- is it better to daven and not have any kavannah and space out and skip words etc. or is it better not to at all?

    #700983
    smile66
    Member

    davening rocks. ROCKS. if you want to hear some divrei torah on it i have, but that doesn’t seem like what you’re really looking for is it?

    about your last question – daven one teeny part with kavana; one bracha, one word, anything, and then yes, it’s worth it. imho

    #700984
    i love coffe
    Participant

    Hashem always listens to our prayers no matter what. He might not answer them when we want but He definatly listens to them and saves them in a special “box”. He knows what is better for us all the time.

    Always daven with kevana knowing that one day all of your tefillot will be answered. You wont regret it. All the best!

    #700985
    smile66
    Member

    as for me, my tefilla used to be HORRIBLE and this past year in seminary helped me get a little more connected to it, i’m still not awesome at all but i have kavana now more than i used to, and when i do have kavana it’s better kavana.

    like i said, i could share some things that i learned about tefilla this past year that helped me a lot (then again, everyone gets inspired by different things, so…)

    to say the cheesy answer, i’m sure if you really want your davening to improve Hashem will help you, cuz He’s always there for you even when it seems like He isn’t. (now just gotta drive that into MYSELF a little more and i’ll have perfect tefilla)

    i have more stuff thats not as cheesy if u want to hear (at least in my head it doesnt sound cheesy….)

    #700986
    rebdoniel
    Member

    Are you a male or a female?

    Prayer is G-d’s special weapon. He does what He wills in His time, not anyone else’s time. All things are contingent on His will- trusting in this is Bitachon.

    Do what I do- I took this as advice from the Lubavitchers. I learn Mussar or Chassidus seforim for a few minutes before davening and for a few minutes before learning. This sets my kavvanah straight and gets me in the mood to serve HaShem in tefillah.

    #700987
    kapusta
    Participant

    In answer to your first question, I think a big problem in davening that affects everyone is that since people cant see Hashem, and the answers to our Tefillos aren’t always the ones we want/are looking for (so we don’t see the answer) we get discouraged. I think one way to change this would be to talk to Hashem throughout the day. “Hashem, thank You for letting me catch ABC before he/she went out.” “Thank you for letting me get to the cleaners before they closed.”… simple things like that. It will strengthen your relationship with Hashem and make davening easier for you (and seem like less of a “burden”). Also, dont forget that Davening is for your good, no one elses. And remember that the better your life will be the stronger and better your relationship with Hashem. (Not talking about the actual events of your life, but you will have a very good attitude which will make your life better.)

    For the second question, I’m not an LOR but ask yourself if you sincerely want to be a good davener. (And based on this thread, I would say the answer is yes.) If thats the case, “Mitoch Shelo Lishmah, Bah Lishmah”. (If a person wants to do something for the right reasons deep down but they get “covered up” by other things. Eventually the right reasons will shine through.

    Hatzlacha Rabbah!

    *kapusta*

    #700988
    kapusta
    Participant

    P.S. There is a thread somewhere on the CR with some great Davening tips. No idea where to find it though.

    *kapusta*

    #700989
    amichai
    Participant

    take time out to speak to g-d in your own words. find a quiet place and just talk. it might feel a little wierd at first, but as time goes on, you will feel a closeness to g-d. ” In forest fields’ is a sefer by rav arush, on tefilla.

    #700990
    RSRH
    Member

    SmartTeen: First off, let me say that based on your post, I am sure that your username is an apt description of your true nature and personality. Your perspective on davening is not uncommon, and is, in my humble opinion, quite reasonable.

    As to your first question. Thank you for bringing it up! I think that many people have similar problems with the idea of davening, and quite simply the typical response that “Hashem hears our prayers no matter what and they always do something” (I Love Coffeee) just doesn’t cut it.

    It may help you to look at davening from another perspective. Instead of thinking that when you daven you are “praising Hashem” and begging for your wants and needs, think of davening as an opportunity for self introspection. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch translates “hispallel” as self judgement. We daven three times a day to measure our daily conduct against the backdrop set by teffillah. In the morning we daven and try to set the tone for our actions throughout the day. Say Shema and think, “what do I need to do throughout the day and how do I need to act in every situation in which I find myself so as to live up to the ideal of “v’ahavta es Hashem . . . ” When davening shemona esrei consider what it means to live with the zechus of the avos, and what kind of conduct such a zechus demands of us. Consider how you must use your mind, care for your health, relate to tzaddikim and reshaim (choenen hadaad, rifaeinu, v’lamalshinim, uv’chein tzadikim”) during your daily life.

    We do the same in the middle of the day at mincha to evaluate how well we are living this ideal throughout the day, and to inspire ourselves to do better for the remainder of the day. At maariv we take stock of the whole day and gird ourselves to begin again tomorrow.

    Ultimately, davening becomes about you. It a an opportunity to think about yourself – meditate if you will – about how well your daily conduct is living up to the Torah ideal.

    If you would like more info about this approach to teffila, see the Collected Writings of R. Samson Rapahael Hirsch, Vol. 2, pp. 53-63; Vol. 3, pp. 235-260.

    #700991
    SJSinNYC
    Member

    I have found during my “low” times, it was better to say the bare minimum of organized prayer and then pray with my own words. It helped me get over humps.

    #700992
    minyan gal
    Member

    I LOVE davening, particulary during the daily morning minyamin. I find such comfort in the daily repetition and the familiarity of the prayers. Perhaps you should try attending minyan at different shuls where there is more (or less) singing or tehillim or whatever. There is sure to be some shul where you are comfortable. At my shul, during the Amidah, they always say that you may do it in Hebrew or in English or “use your own words of prayer” as Hashem will hear you. Sure, there are some days where my mind wanders and I am not as attentive as I should be, but most days I follow along with wonder and awe. What a wonderful way to start the day!

    #700993
    TzefatView
    Member

    Rav Shlomo Brevda has many shmoozin on this topic. He is a brilliant speaker. You can find hundreds of his sichot online for a small fee.

    #700994
    TzefatView
    Member

    here is a website that has free tfillah shiurim in english by rebetzin neustadt. Rav brevda has shiurim in english and hebrew, so before you pay $, make sure it is the right lashon for you.

    http://www.kolhashiurim.com/New/Shiurim.aspx?Lang=English&Path=English|EWomen|R7508|R7508-11&English=True

    go to the homepage, and you will find hundreds of shiurim all for free

    #700995

    SJS: same here. I found it helped to talk to Hashem thru the day, not sjust during davening time, like before I go to work, for help at work, as I walk into school to do well in school, when i come home that I should be a good influence in the family etc. It helps much more than just trying to have kavana when reading from the siddur.

    #700996
    theprof1
    Participant

    I recently saw a letter response to someone from the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztzl on this issue. The main part was that the Rebbe told him to give tzedoko Before putting on tefilin. Another way to enhance your attitude is to think about everything you do before you get to shul and to think of it as being avodas Hashem. Wake up and say Modeh Ani and think about what you just said. Wash negel vasser and think about becoming spiritually cleaner so you’ll be able to daven. Pick up your tefilin bag and think about how happy you should be that you’re about to do a mitzvas Hashem and to give Nachas Ruach to Hashem. Your davening will go so much better.

    #700997
    Dr. Pepper
    Participant

    I heard this from a friend who used to think that davening was a tircha.

    He said that it came to a point where he felt horrible about himself and after that any day where he didn’t daven with a minyan in the morning was totally wasted as he knew he started it on the wrong foot.

    He knew that as hard as it was he had to get up on time and daven properly.

    #700998
    bpt
    Participant

    SmartTeen –

    What a wonderful, refreshing post! No wonder chazal said, ” klal yisroel will only be redeemed in the merit of the tinokos shel bais rabbon.

    As someone who was a teen not too long ago, I know what you mean. Its very tough to produce the firepower that adults have, and you may be too honest with yourself to go thru the motions (fist pumps, eyes screwed shut, like you’re being pinched, ect). True emotion during davening, is something adults are sometimes better at, because we simply have more at stake, so we put our heart and soul into it. ( I don’t want to talk about young people who have tzaros r”l, becuase they are in a category of their own, and I should not comment on that level of davening.)

    But for the average teen, don’t think you are not accomplishing as much right now. Think of it as physical training. Not evey day, do you need to run a 25 mile marathon, or sprint like you’re being chased by lions and tigers. But its nice to know, if you NEEDED to, you could do it.

    Building “davenening stamina” will come in handy when you need to start praying like your (your family’s) life depends on it. But like all training regimens, starting when you’re young makes it a whole lot easier.

    #700999
    smile66
    Member

    I heard this from R’ Benzion Kermaier –

    Many people think that tefilla is a Cosmic Coke Machine. When you are thirsty, you go to it, press the nice little button, the coke rolls down, and you’re outa there. That is not at all what tefilla is supposed to be about. In the Bais Hamikdash, Bnei Yisrael’s avoda was through the korbanos. But seriously, why was that so special? Burning animals is so holy that it cleans us of all our sins??

    No! The thing is, the whole experience of bringing the korban would actually change the person. Coming all the way to the Holy Bais Hamikdash, entering into this place that’s brimming over with kedusha, and the whole overwhelming experience of bringing himself to give Hashem a present, and hearing all the Leviim’s amazing and moving music [the Leviim’s shira raised the people to such a high level of closeness to Hashem. That music brought them to full teshuva through it’s insane perfectioin and ability to shoot straight to the heart]. Watching the huge pillar of fire shoot down from shamayim and actually accept his korban – if you just picture it, it must have been a beyond-this-world experience.

    And this experience changed the person. When a person would leave the Bais Hamikdash after having given a korban, he’s leaving different. He’s experienced such a close connection to Hashem that this will give Him the strength and desire to be a better person from now on.

    And THIS is what our davening is supposed to be like. Tefilla is not a cosmic coke machine. [Of course, it is through tefilla that we are able to ask Hashem all of our bakashos, but if you look at the actual text of davening, not too much of it is actually bakashos!] If we really pay attention to the words of davening, it should be able to bring us closer to Hashem. It should make us into bigger people! Because once you experienced your tefilla – once you experienced praising Hashem for all He does in so many beautiful and eloquent words, and thanked Him from the bottom of your heart because you do understand that it all comes from Him – you are a bigger person. And that’s the point. Of course some days you’ll have less kavana than others, and other days you won’t have kavana at all. But slowly slowly if once in a while you do daven with kavana – its power to change you is amazing.

    #701000
    apushatayid
    Participant

    WHERE you daven also makes a huge difference. I personally find it horrible that people sit through davening with half an eye on a siddur and one and a half eyes on whatever sefer they have with them. To me, that says “i’d rather be anywhere else, but here in shul davening”. It sets a horrible tone for the rest of the mispallelim (well, at least for me). I try to daven where all people are focused on is davening.

    #701001
    sm29
    Participant

    Imagine you are talking to H-shem, requesting and thanking Him for your blessings. Read what the words means so it has has more meaning and you can feel it. Hatzlacha

    #701002
    jay11691
    Member

    My two cents: Appreciating davening does not happen in a vacuum. Way, way before that is self-understanding and being in touch with true reality. Our busy secular world makes it very difficult to even understand and realize we exist & the nature of that existence. Try closing your eyes and concentrating on your sense of self. Who am I? What am I? Who is this person called ______? What is being alive?

    You do not need the answers, you just have to get in touch with the nature of being before you can daven at all & enjoy it.

    Once you reach a point where you are happy with your mere existence, & not reliant on distractions, then you can daven. Your davening will be a heightened existence. This will make sense & change your life if you try it.

    #701003
    jay11691
    Member

    To be clear, once you truly feel your existence & are happy with it, reliance on movies etc. for happiness should fall away. The struggle is not a direct struggle not to watch movies/TV etc. You are bound to lose that battle. The struggle is indirect. Feel alive, feel reality, make peace with yourself. Maintain this struggle, and you will be a truly religious happy person your whole life.

    #701004
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    smartteen:

    With no offense to the other posters, I don’t think the standard advice for improving kavana will be helpful in your situation. Do you?

    I think you need to deal with the reason why you don’t want to daven. You say that for many years you were in a hard situation and you felt as if G-d was not responding to you, and you do not want to daven anymore because of that.

    I find that very reasonable. If you feel that G-d abandoned you when you needed and relied on him, why should you want to extend yourself again to be shot down? (Please nobody respond how smartteen shouldn’t feel this way. smartteen needs to deal with how smartteen feels, not with how smartteen should feel.)

    .

    Have these feelings extended to the rest of your avodas hashem also? If so, it certainly is not a problem with davening. Rather, davening is just a manifestation of your general feelings.

    .

    You haven’t told us what the difficult situation was. If it was tension with or between your parents, it is quite normal for that to affect your relationship with G-d and with Judaism. If it was anything else, it still is quite normal, especially since difficulties often do affect the family dynamic.

    .

    I wish you much luck. If you really do feel significantly disconnected with G-d and Judaism, you should find someone you can talk to about that.

    #701005
    mghanooni
    Member

    The Gemara in Brachot (32b) says that Tefillah is one of 4 things that need constant strengthening. I think that tefillah is to be looked at as an art form. It takes constant work to perfect it.

    In general, people have the wrong idea that something in ruchniut should have effects immediately. Whether they do a mitsvah or otherwise, they think that they should be rewarded (or otherwise) immediately. I have to say that after doing birkat cohanim every day, sometimes I feel unsure of the benefits. But I remind myself that the Ribbono Shel Olam answers us with what we need and when we need it. Hashem knows whats best for us and the best time to give it to us.

    #701006
    sm29
    Participant

    Mghanooni, good point that sometimes things take time but come eventually. We might not feel something or receive at the moment, but with time we do.

    Also, I agree with Popa about talking to someone that can help you with this. It’s good to have guidence and support.

    #701007
    the.nurse
    Member

    There is a wonderful book called Praying with Fire. It’s divided into days; each day takes about 3 minutes to read. When I took it upon myself to truly daven each day, I started with reading the daily dose of Praying with Fire before I started my davening, and I found that it helped me a lot.

    Good luck!

    #701008
    tzippi
    Member

    In one of Rabbi Reisman’s first motzei Shabbos shiurim of 5750 he spoke about the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah. If you have access to the CD, a tape library etc. it is must listening to. I think it was at that shiur that he mentioned that the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah organized davening and the words to touch our sould in a way we need as we navigate through galus. Even if you can’t daven with the kavana you like there is still great power and potency in just saying their words.

    No time to go into it now but he had some awesome stuff on the first bracha in Shemone Esrei. I almost always remember that thought and hope that that makes me yotzei for that first bracha.

    You may want to try this: if you know the davening by heart and your pronunciation is different, say it sometimes while reading the English. You may find a phrase that just speaks to you. It’s happened to me a lot.

    Here’s a great thought I saw in the name of Rabbi Gottlieb: you know how in shema there are two letters that are enlarged? You probably know all sorts of vertlach on the ayin and daled. But the letters that are left! They form an anagram, esmach. I will rejoice. I am overjoyed that I have the opportunity to communicate and interface with Hashem, that I always have access.

    I am very impressed that you are thinking so seriously at this point in life. Kol hakavod to you!

    #701009
    phrum
    Member

    Davening when one has no kavanah, when one gets no spiritual or emotional or psychological high from davening but yet one still davens anyway just because HaShem commanded so – that is the highest kavanah of all and yehser koach for that!

    #701010

    I once had a court case. I arrived half an hour early and just sat there in the lobby of the court house. Didn’t read, didn’t chat didn’t do anything except sit with the awareness of the severity of the upcoming event. Awareness of the judge and the procedure and what I would say and ask.

    Do the same for 5 minutes before you daven. Call it meditation call it what you will. Just take a step back and silently contemplate Who you are talking to soon.

    Think about the word ‘Atoh’ = ‘You’. You will be talking directly to the Power and Wisdom that created the entire universe with its thousands of billions of stars. To the very same Being that communicated with Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. To the Wisdom that formulated the miraculous human body among the rest of nature with its unfathomable processes.

    Treat each tefiloh – no – every phrase – like it is your last ever. In truth each tefiloh is your last ever – for that particular tefiloh – as no tefiloh affects the heavenly worlds and by extension – you and the universe – the same way.

    #701011
    oomis
    Participant

    You want to know if I can prove to you tefilah makes a difference. Well, I don’t know if you will accept my proof, but I know it does.

    My son and daughter-in-law have been married for almost 9 years. They had a great deal of trouble conceiving for several of those years and it was breaking my heart, knowing what they were going through. They had just about decided to use medical intervention and medicines, but were hesitant. Personally, I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea myself.

    One Shavuos night (Tikun Leil Shavuos) at midnight, I went outside and poured my heart out to Hashem for my children’s Tzaar, begging Him to help them, so they would not need to go through painful treatments and possible disappointments each month.I also davened for other people in a similar position. I cried and cried, and then I went back inside, and stayed up all night larning various Divrei Torah.

    Several weeks later I got a call from my daughter-in-law, that maaseh nissim, she was expecting, and WITHOUT having gone to the doctor for the treatments. We bli ayin hara and B”H, have a beautiful, wonderful four-year-old grandson now. This was in no way by chance, and unquestionably Hashem’s Rachamim in answer to my heartfelt prayers.

    The esssence of Tefilah is bakasha, but that does not mean that it is ONLY about our needs and wants. First, you have to give yourself over to your Creator and recognize that He alone is the Source that controls the world. You cannot be anything but humble in your approach to davening. He is not here to serve US. The reverse is true. Too many of us drop our faith when things don’t go our way. Well if we only have faith when Hashem gives us what we think we want, then we have no faith at all. And that is a lesson, most of us come to understand when we are older.

    I wish you will have a positive eye-opening experience, so you will come to realize that a good parent doesn’t always give us what we ask for, no matter how much we beg, whine, plead, cry and demand. But then that magical day arrives when mom or dad presents us with that shiny new bike/car/trip we cannot live without, when we least expect it, because it is the right time, and just wasn’t before. Tefilah is good, even when the answer is “no,” because it reminds us there is a Higher Power Above us.

    #701012
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    oomis:

    If that is to be accepted as proof, I have stories which show the opposite. Let’s agree that we accept tefilla on information and belief.

    #701013
    oomis
    Participant

    I do agree with you, Popa. I have davened for many things in my life, and actually received two or three of them, as asked-for. The point is, we don’t stop davening, just because we are not answered the way we wish to be. Hashem knows what we need. More than that, davening is about the recognition of Hashem as our Higher Authority, and subjugation to His ratzon. It is not about self-oriented “I want”(s).

    #701014
    smile66
    Member

    poppa bar abba – there are many stories of Hashem “not answering tfilos” bmaase nisim? In oomis’s case, she was davening for Hashem to change tevah for her to an extent. Her children’s lives were going along a cetain line in tevah, and after she davened that teva was distorted for her. If the tevah you were hoping to change through your tfilos IS changed, it can only be because of the tfila. Meaning tfila works. The opposite logic would only make sence if Hashem actually made a nes to not to answer your tfilos.

    I am not saying that this reasoning works with tfilos that stay within teva (though if Hashem can answer a big bakasha like that of course He can answer “easier” ones too). In conclusion, I think oomis had a point in saying her story proved something.

    #701015
    oomis
    Participant

    Smile – exactly.

    #701016
    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Yes, I have davened for things which should have come b’teva, and they inexplicably did not come.

    I hope you will continue to daven after hearing my story.

    #701017
    WIY
    Member

    SmartTeen

    “I am looking for a way to get myself to want to daven. For about the past 2 years, I have only been davening in school when we are ”forced to” or when my mother makes sure I do. When we are on vacation or on Sundays.. I don’t. I guess most of the reason I don’t like to is because I feel it is useless. For many years I was stuck in a few difficult situations and the whole time I would daven every day, but nothing ever changed so I lost hope. Can anyone help me?

    Also- is it better to daven and not have any kavannah and space out and skip words etc. or is it better not to at all?”

    Lets analyze what you said.

    “most of the reason I don’t like to is because I feel it is useless. For many years I was stuck in a few difficult situations and the whole time I would daven every day, but nothing ever changed so I lost hope.”

    Firstly, Hashem doesnt have to answer your Tefillos, He can just say NO. Dont think for one second that you do Hashem any favors by Davening because you arent. Davening as well as everything else we do is for us. Additionally, Hashem did us a HUGE Chessed that he allows us to even come before Him and talk to him and ask for things that we need. Its a mistake that people think that Hashem has to answer them. A mistake and a big Chutzpah. In reality, Hashem does so much good for us every second of our existence that its almost a chutzpah to ask for anything more. We have permission to Daven because He said we can.

    The purpose of Davening is to realize who we stand before. If a person stands before a king and has a chance to ask for anything and while talking his/her mind wanders the king will certainly notice that the person isnt “here” and will be very insulted and will not accept a word the person says. The person will be lucky not to get thrown into prison let alone have requests granted!

    When we Daven before Hashem we must recognize who we stand before. Da lifnei mi atah omeid. We must make every effort not to think about anything but the meaning of the words during our Tefillos. Yes thoughts will try to pop in, but gently send them out and pull yourself back to shemonah esrei.

    There are a number of reasons why Hashem wont listen to ones Tefillos and a major impediment to Tefillah acceptance is Davening with sincerity. We say in Ashrei Karov Hashem Lchal Korav Lcho Asher Kerauhu Bemes. Hashem is close to all those that call out to him in TRUTH, that means sincerity. If one says Hashiveinu (the Bracha about Teshuvah) or Selach Lanu but has have no real intention of getting closer to hashem then they are a liar, they are lying before to HASHEMS FACE!!!!! What chance is there that Hashem will listen to any of their other Tefillos and requests? NONE NONE NONE to the power of a gazillion.

    Hashem wants togive you and provide all of your needs, but turn to Him with the knowledge and Emunah that only Him only Hashem can help you and man is helpless on his own. No man on this planet can help you and anything and everything is all from Hashem. If you daven before Hashem with sincerity and clear knowledge that you must Daven because He is the one that provides everything and the ONLY ONE who can help you, you will be answered.

    There are other impediments to Tefillah, like one who talks loshon hora or lies, or talks in shul sins of the mouth block out a persons tefillos.

    But the key is sincerity.

    “Also- is it better to daven and not have any kavannah and space out and skip words etc. or is it better not to at all?”

    If you cant Daven all of it and have Kavanah at least daven some of it with Kavanah. NEVER say any tefillah and skip words, your words can end up saying terrible things due to what you omitted and can bring bad things upon you.

    In Shemonah esrei, the most iportant bracha is the first, so make sure you know the meaning and have in mind by that. Once you have that down pat work on the next bracha and so on and so forth.

    #701018
    tzippi
    Member

    WIY reminded me of something I should have said earlier.

    I know how you feel. I suffered a major loss as a teen and for years I really couldn’t say Tehillim. For some reason it really hit me there, that it “didn’t work.” Then I heard something some years later. I can’t believe no one ever told me something so fundamental at some point, maybe it just really kicked in then. But what I heard is, no tefilla EVER goes to waste. Even if we don’t see the yeshua we need, the zechuyos of the tefilla is there, helping the one in need, in this world, or the next, or their family, etc., somehow, some time. I’ve participated in challah segulos for many different people. When there is a childless couple whose names I’m given, I have in mind that they should see their heart’s desire AND that my tefillos should help them stay besimcha, maintain their shalom bayis, and have a meaningful life till Hashem sees fit to do so.

    I’m not Hashem’s accountant but there’s an account up there with all your tefillos that “didn’t work”, that makes any Swiss bank account look like some kid’s piggy bank.

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