As for me, I cry out to You, O LORD; each morning my prayer greets You. (88:14)
Some people wake up in the morning ready to go; others wake up with feeling like their brains are full of damp cotton. Even the most enthusiastic morning folks don’t always look forward to morning prayers. There is so much to do, we want to get started tackling the items on the agenda! So we rush through the prayers without much thought in order to get started with more important business.
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev noted that it is easy to find people who are distracted by business during prayer times; it is far more difficult to find people who are distracted by God or Torah during business hours.
Why cry out to God? Doesn’t God already know what’s on my mind? Is it possible that God won’t provide for my needs unless I ask for them? And what about all those things that I ask for that I never receive – is God not listening?
We pray not because we need something from God, but because we need to remind ourselves to distinguish between what we truly need and what we merely want.
We pray because we remind ourselves that our life is a gift from God and we need to remind ourselves to show gratitude.
We pray because showing gratitude to God for God’s attributes of love, power, and generosity reminds us to be loving, use power wisely, and generous.
We pray to remind ourselves that the world can be better than it is right now, to remind ourselves that optimism is a Jewish value.
We pray because sometimes we are in pain and shared pain hurts less than pain born alone.
We pray because sometimes we are joyful and joy increases exponentially when shared.
Finally, we pray in a communal minyan to remind ourselves that we are not simply fulfilling a selfish personal obligation – we are also supporting others to fulfill their obligations.