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7 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2008 - 2:11PM #1
bvarnell
Posts: 628
Hi,
In Judaism is it acceptable to have informal prayer? or must you pray from a prayer book?
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2008 - 2:24PM #2
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=bvarnell;346578]Hi,
In Judaism is it acceptable to have informal prayer? or must you pray from a prayer book?[/QUOTE]

Judaism is a religion of community is defined by law. As such, our prayers -- even when we pray alone -- are generally formulated in the plural ("we") and follow a prescribed format.

There are prayers that we are required to say at certain times -- the central prayer, called in rabbinic liturgy ha-tefillah or The Prayer -- is the Amidah of 19 blessings which is recited in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The recitation of this player is a mitzvah d'rabbanan -- a mitzvah enacted by the Rabbis. The Torah requires prayer -- or "service of the heart" -- at least once a day; the Rabbis -- based on the example of the three Patriarchs and the schedule of the Temple sacrifices -- established the three prayer services as part of halakhah or Jewish law. The recitation of the three paragraphs of the Shema (Deuteronony 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41) is mandated by the Torah -- a mitzvah d'oraita.

That being said, prayer is one of those mitzvot that has a minimum, but no maximum. These formal prayers are the required bottom line, but a person is permitted and encouraged to pray more -- either extensively through additional contemplation or spontaneous personal prayer or through intensive meditation on the words of the formal prayers.

Prayer is meritorious, though, but actions speak louder than words. Torah study, helping the poor through tzedakah, and acts of loving-kindness are even more important.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2008 - 9:03PM #3
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929
BS"D

As Dan posted, just like in any faith, prayer apart from the personal and corporate actions it is intended to engender is pretty much meaningless (vain) repetition and a very unseemly activity whether it is from a set of traditional prayers or made up directly from the heart ex-cathedra.

It also might suprise one to understand for the first time that as a Jew's relationship with Hashem is moment-by-moment vice only-in-Church-on-Sunday or only for the purpose of stealing souls that the sheer quantity of a Jewish person's ex-cathedra prayers almost always outnumbers the thrice-daily customary order of prayers. Formal or not, prayer - like any other mitzvo - is for OUR benefit. :D
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2008 - 10:42PM #4
Pam34
Posts: 2,660

bvarnell wrote:

Hi,
In Judaism is it acceptable to have informal prayer? or must you pray from a prayer book?



It is perfectly acceptable to pray informally, personally, or any other way. But learning the liturgical prayers - the collected prayers and blessings of the Jewish people over a thousand years and more, gives anybody a wonderful collection of ideas, themes and LANGUAGE to use in prayer, that is (in my experience) a lot better than most of the personal stuff I dredge up myself.

My favorite personal prayer, however, and you are welcome to use it, too, is:

wow God! What a beautiful day! Thank you!

Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2008 - 2:29PM #5
lauramushkat
Posts: 625
Actually formal prayer, like in any religon, is done with a prayer book.  Many people say these prayers alone at home as well as in their house of worship.  Yes many are used when you pray with 10 adults in a Minyan but even these some people say when alone.

Other prayer-which can actually be construed as just talking-to G-d you do not need a prayer book for.  These are personal and may even be sudden.

There are prayers people say that are formal but they know them by heart and not everyone does this.  There are prayers you can be saying all day like prayers when you see a rainbow, a tree, a bird etc.  You can also offer up a prayer on your own or one you know by heart when seeing an accident or some such.
Hugs
Laura
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 14, 2008 - 12:15AM #6
Pam34
Posts: 2,660
There's even a prayer formula, you might say -

Blessed are You, Lord our God ruler of the universe who......(fill in blank with whatever)
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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