Understanding Prayer: Spiritual Exercise (1/10)

Posted By on October 19, 2019

you prayer is to the human spirit what
exercises to the human body I try to do my 10,000 steps a day I don’t always
succeed but I feel bad when I don’t because I know that with my sedentary
lifestyle if I don’t exercise all sorts of things will go wrong I’ll put on
weight my muscles will grow weak my blood pressure will rise and my life
expectancy will decline I’ll lose years from my life and life from my years and
yes 10,000 steps on a treadmill can sometimes be pretty boring but you do it
because you know what will happen if you don’t and the same is true of Prayer
it’s just that we don’t have the same kind of precise measurement for the
spirit that we do for the body it’s not easy to quantify the feelings of
happiness fulfillment meaning gratitude pleasure delight joy but they make a
difference in fact they make all the difference to the sense of blessedness
of a life well-lived and we now know thanks to the research of people like
Martin Seligman Edina Sanyal Luba Mirsky and talbin Shekhar that happiness the
flourishing of the human spirit has an effect on life expectancy and on health
it strengthens the immune system it’s correlated with success in education
career and relationships it turns us outward and makes us less likely to
suffer from loneliness and despair it’s just that we seem to have forgotten that
prayer is to the spirit what physical exercise is to the body
meditation yes mindfulness certainly there the fashionable of things and
surely there’s nothing wrong with them Jewish prayer when it’s done the right
way is a form of meditation and mindfulness but it’s also so much more
just as happiness is so much more it’s more than the moment of serenity in a
life otherwise punctuated by stress and xiety and dissapointment Jewish prayer
is about gratitude and resilience and forgiveness and love it’s about song and
dance and exuberance and joy go to a Jewish wedding and you’ll know what that
means and sometimes prayer should feel like a
Jewish wedding it’s about celebrating life the spirit needs prayer the way the
body needs exercise and sometimes prayer can be boring the way exercise can be
boring but you do it because you know that it’s going to make you feel more
energized focused revitalized it’s going to make you a better larger deeper human
being for the better part of 4,000 years Jews have been among the world’s experts
on the human spirit and much of that has to do with the way we pray so join me in
this series of short videos and let’s learn what prayer really is and how it
can change your life a sham
I share my

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 13 comments

  1. Rabbi Sacks, thank you for such a beautiful series in which you provide a most eloquent description of the importance and effect of prayer. I particularly found your description of melodies and tunes used in prayer to be the "language of the soul" , to be a most poignant comparison full of intense beauty. The only flaw I did find in the series was that you chose in the 10 or so introductory and concluding tunes not to employ any tunes performed by women. Even for the Avinu Malkeinu melody whose beautiful and magical rendition by Barbra Streisand, you chose to use the melody performed by a man and not by Streisand, or maybe a woman. As you write, prayer is for everyone, man and woman, black and white, Jew and Gentile alike, I really think you should cater in the future and fully include women in your works, whatever the negative reaction of more extreme Jewish elements who it is doubtful whether your words interest them anyway. Ketiva Vehatima Tova lechol Amei Haolom.

  2. Rabbi Sacks, Thank you for these series, as well as your books, like "Covenant & Conversations". I am looking forward to volume 5 Devarim. Thanks to you and other Rabbis, I am praying every day.

  3. I struggle with prayer – as I have shared each Erev Yom Kippur – http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/dear-god-3/ – so I thank you for your infusions of spirituality through these videos.

  4. Rabbi. Yo're a Lord – which pains me. I happened on your videos by chance. You are given a lofty title for no apparent reason. Thank you at least for providing the material for which your title should be challenged. Now can you raise the question in your given circle of authority "If we do not represent the population, what are we doing in authority?" and still tell me I should not raise an army against you?


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