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2447 Words Jun 7th, 2013 10 Pages
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Prayer
By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
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In this study I would like to examine what prayer is, and what praying will accomplish. The first time we see ‘praying’ in Scripture is found in:

1 Sh’muel (Samuel) 1:1-18 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name [was] Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one [was] Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto HaShem of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of HaShem, [were]
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What is a ratzon? Strong’s defines a ratzon as:

7522 ratzon, raw-tsone'; or ratson, raw-tsone'; from 7521; delight (espec. as shown):-(be) acceptable (-ance, -ed), delight, desire, favour, (good) pleasure, (own, self, voluntary) will, as... (what) would.

This ratzon is what motivates us to act in the world. When we pray we are ‘judging ourselves’ and acting on that judgment.

The Sages derive many of the rules for praying from Hannah’s prayer. We will therefore look at Hannah’s prayer in a careful manner to attempt to understand how to pray.

Lets start by examining Hannah’s ratzon:

1 Sh’muel (Samuel) 1:10 And she [was] in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto HaShem, and wept sore.

Our story opens with a bit of background information that helps us to understand why Hannah had such bitterness of soul. Peninnah had children and Hannah did not. Peninnah provoked Hannah because Hannah had no children. The only way that Peninnah could provoke Hannah, is if Hannah had a ratzon, a strong desire, for children. This ratzon is what caused Hannah to pray.

When we pray, we pray for the ratzon, for the desire of our heart. That is why a thief will often pray that he not be caught. The incongruity of asking HaShem to help a thief commit a crime that HaShem has forbidden, never enters the mind of such a person because his ratzon is so strong. Such a prayer, oddly enough, is often answered. Why is it answered?

Psalm 145:16 Thou openest thine hand,