by R. Gil Student
Aficionados of all kinds agree that the more you understand something, the more you appreciate it. The ability to distinguish between works of art or bottles of wine allows you to recognize their varying attributes and the hard work that went into making them. In an English translation of one of the books he wrote personally, Rav Shimshon Pincus teaches readers to appreciate the nuances of prayer with the same depth and distinction they would apply to other, unrelated areas. We learn to pray when we are young. As we mature, our understanding and abilities should grow likewise. This requires study and concentrated practice.
The question of prayer has challenged philosophers throughout the ages. If God knows what we want and what we deserve, why does He need us to pray? Many answers have been given. Rav Pincus follows the approach of Ramchal (Derech Hashem 4:5:1) that God established a system of providence in the world that follows formal procedures. The world is programmed to work as follows: in order for a person to receive the help that he merits, he must pray. Rav Pincus expands on this idea. “Hashem runs the world in such a way that it is as if He doesn’t ‘see’ what is not shown to Him and doesn’t ‘know’ what is not brought to His attention.” When we pray for something specific, we open the gates of Heaven for Divine blessing to descend. Similarly, when we praise God for a specific trait, He exercises that trait for us. This enables us to grow closer to God by connecting to Him with prayer for all of our needs.
Effective prayer begins with preparation. If we do not progress in our learning as we mature, our education is lacking. Similarly, if we do not progress in our praying ability, we suffer from deficient training. In order to grow in prayer, we have to devote time to learning how to pray—what the words mean, how to prepare properly before prayer and how to effectively utilize the different forms of prayer.
Continued at Jewish Action: link