Project Genesis

Prayer and Religious Articles

The Obligation to Pray in Scriptures

Question: Where in the tanakh does G-d tell us that we should pray? Where is the institution of prayer? I would like any and all references to prayer in the scriptures as possible.

Answer: I’m afraid I can’t go through the whole Tanakh (the Bible, the Torah, Prophets/nevi’im and Writings/ketuvim), but let me remind you of a couple of prayers:

1) Moses to HaShem regarding the tzaaras or “leprosy” which popped out on his sister Miriam. He cried to HaShem, “Heal her now, O G’d, I beseech You.” Numbers 12:13.

2) The Prayer of Yabeez or Jabeez, as it may be transliterated, 1 Chronicles 4:10 et seq.

We do some outreach to non-Jews and I often find myself having to discuss the nature of prayer: HaShem already knows what you’ve got in mind but by addressing the invisible, ineffable, infinite Master of the Universe and humbly submitting your will to His, recognizing His mastery and your own – shall we say limited? – role in Creation, you refine yourself, educate yourself, and make yourself more worthy of His kind attention. To ask Him for something worthy, too, is elevating. To associate yourself w/ the larger community in your prayer, w/ the good of others and not just your own good, is also enriching.

In general, the more you make your will G’d’s will, the more likely He will make your will His will. Proper prayer puts you on the side of the underlying metaphysical principles that underlie all reality; please believe me when I tell you that you’re a lot more likely to win G’d’s favor and get Him to answer your petitions to Him when you deliberately put yourself on G’d’s side, than when you stand opposed to His will or remain heedless of the spiritual principles at the root of Creation and expect Him to rush to YOUR side simply because you’re supposedly so deserving.

We get people to study the Hebrew prayers – that is, the ancient prayers/liturgy found in the Hebrew prayerbook, or siddur (literally, the “order” or arrangement – to learn great moral, spiritual and philosophical truths, about where one “stands w/ G’d,” because the siddur’s prayers, which have, mostly, been accepted for millenia by the whole community of observant Israel, are designed and serve to teach you exactly where you stand vis-a-vis HaShem. They’re designed for your enlightenment and for your spiritual, emotional, philosophical and mental growth.

HaShem affirmatively desires the prayers of His creatures, the Torah teaches….

You should know that Moses wasn’t somehow magically limited to a written text – the text of the Five Books that make up the core of the Bible – when he tried to pass His Torah knowledge down to Israel. He also had the power of the spoken word. He also had the power of show-and-tell, as you might put it. He did all he could and used every conceivable medium to convey his Torah-knowledge to the People of Israel, so that the People of Israel would keep the Torah alive and vital FOREVER… you should understand that the Written Scripture serves only like an outline to the much, much larger so-called Oral Torah, or the Torah and the Talmud and the Midrashim, including the collective historical, spiritual, moral, ethical, and cosmological knowledge of the People of Israel… it’s pretty ridiculous to think that the Written Torah is the only Torah, the only part of the holy Way or Teaching that Moses left to Israel, that Moses for some reason limited himself in his Torah conveyances…

But, you know, this should be enough to hold you for now. Thanks for your attention!


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