From the Desk of Rabbi Mordecai Silver, Ph.D.
Why do we pray? Doesn't God already know what's good for us? Doesn't He already know what we need? Are we somehow trying to "convince" God of the justness of our cause?
What changes through prayer is not the "mind" of the Almighty. What changes through prayer is us. By recognizing the source of all of our blessings - our sustenance, our health, our success, our very existence - we bring ourselves to a higher spiritual level. We elevate ourselves by drawing closer to the Almighty. And through this act of elevation, we become more "fitting" to receive those things we've prayed so hard for. In having grown through prayer, we can now use our gifts more properly to perfect ourselves and the world around us.
People often mistakenly believe that they should only pray for the "Big Things" like health and life. They don't want to "bother" the Almighty with small things.
This is a two-fold mistake. First, G-d is Infinite. He has the capacity to have an ongoing individual relationship with every human being on the planet. God desires our prayers because He wants to bestow blessings upon us. He only wants our good - which is to make the most out of our lives. Prayer is one way in which we maximize our potential by drawing closer to God.
Second, if we want to ask for the "Big Things," then we need the knowledge and the practice of how to pray. Every prayer puts one in touch with the Almighty.
Prayer is most effective when combined with effort. We live in a world of "doing." Prayer helps us to focus on what we need to do in order to succeed. Only for a very holy individual, prayer alone might be sufficient.
Does G-d answer our prayers? Definitely! Sometimes the answer is "Yes" and sometimes it's "No." And whatever God's answer, it's always what's best for us.
Prayer for Good Health
Blessed are You, the Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
Who fashioned man with wisdom
And created within him many openings and cavities.
It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory
That if but one of them were to be ruptured,
Or but one of them were to be blocked
It would be impossible to survive and stand before You.
In the merit of my appreciation for Your wondrous works,
May You grant me good health and long life.
Almighty, Master of the Universe,
my God and the God of my forefathers:
May it be Your Will that You speedily send
a complete recovery from Heaven,
a healing of the body and a
healing of the spirit to:
[the name of the person]
the son/daughter of
[the person's mother's name]
amongst all of the sick of
the Children of Israel.
It is You, the Lord our G-d,
Who nourishes, sustains, and supports
every living creature.
Provide me with my allotment of bread,
and bring forth food for me
and all members of my household
before I have need for it.
May we be supported
in contentment but not in pain, in a
permissible but not a forbidden manner,
in honor but not in disgrace,
for life and for peace.
May we be supported
from the flow of blessing and success,
and from the flow of the Heavenly spring,
so that I will be able to do Your will,
engage in Your Torah,
and fulfill Your commandments.
Make me not dependent on the generosity of other people.
And may there be fulfilled in me the verse that states, "You open up Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalms 145:16).
And also the verse that states,
"Cast Your burden upon God
and He will support you" (Psalms 55:23).
Almighty, Master of the Universe,
Who has given me my life, my health,
my family, my friends, and
my potential to develop as a human being -
to grow and to come close to You,
(ask here for your every need)
Thank you, Almighty,
for this and for everything
that You have given me.
Call out to the Almighty
Everyone on earth!
Serve God with gladness.
Come before Him with joyous song!
Know that the Almighty, He is God.
It is He who made us and we are His,
His nation and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving.
Enter His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
The Almighty is good.
His loving-kindness endures forever.
And His faithfulness continues
From generation to generation.
Master of the Universe, I thank You for Your graciousness in granting this pregnancy.
May it be Your will, O G-d, our G-d, and G-d of our fathers, that You have mercy upon all pregnant women of Your nation that are giving birth, and specifically upon:
(the woman's name and her mother's name).
Let no sickness or blemish affect the mother. At the time that she is giving birth, may You speed the labor, so she may give birth easily and without any pain or suffering.
In the merit of our holy matriarchs - Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah - may the baby be complete in all his limbs and senses. May the baby come forth to a good and peaceful life, at a good time and with good fortune.
May she deliver the placenta in its proper time, and may she be healthy and well for Your service.
May You heed our prayers, and answer our beseeching. For You are merciful and You hear the prayers of every mouth. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O G-d, my Rock and my Redeemer.
May it be Your will, God, that You lead us toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination in life, gladness and peace.
May you rescue us from the hand of
every foe, ambush, bandits and
evil animals along the way,
and from all manner of punishments
that assemble to come to earth.
May you send blessing in our every handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us.
May you hear the sound of our supplication
Because You are God who hears prayers.
May He who blessed our forefathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Bless every holy congregation,
The men, women, sons, daughters
And all that is theirs.
May He bless those who
Dedicate synagogues for prayer
And those who enter them to pray,
Those who give lamps of illumination,
Wine for Kiddush and Havdalah,
Bread for guests, charity for the poor,
And all who faithfully
work for the needs of the community.
May the Almighty reward them
And remove from them all afflictions.
May He heal their bodies,
Forgive their mistakes,
And send them blessing and success
For their every endeavor,
Along with the entire Jewish People.
"Hear O Israel"
The Shema is the Jewish national "pledge of allegiance" - the testimony of belief in One God. Traditionally, it is said three times a day - morning, evening, and before going to sleep. When the time comes to leave this world, the Jew aspires to have the Shema as the parting words on his lips - a final affirmation of belief, trust, and love of God.
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God,
The Lord is One.
Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom
Forever and ever.
And you shall love the Lord your God,
With all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions.
And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart.
And you shall teach them to your children
And speak of them when you sit in your home,
When you walk up the way,
When you lie down and when you rise up.
And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand
And they shall be Tefillin between your eyes.
And you shall write them
On the doorposts of your homes
And upon your gates.
Shema Yisroel, Ado-nay Elo-heinu, Ado-nay Echad.
Baruch shaym kavod mal-chuso li-olam va-ed
Vi-ahav-ta es Ado-noi Elo-hecha
Bi-chol li-vav-cha oo-vi-chol naf-shecha oo-vi-chol mi-odecha
Vi-hayoo ha-dvarim ha-ele
Asher ano-chi mi-tzavcha ha-yom al li-vavecha
Vi-shee-nantam li-vanecha vi-dee-barta bam
Bi-sheev-techa bi-vey-secha oo-vi-lech-techa va-derech
Ook-shartam li-ose al ya-decha
Vi-hayoo li-to-ta-fose bayn ay-necha
Ooch-sav-tam al mi-zoo-zose bay-secha, oo-vee-sharecha