Everyone knows what prayer is. It exists in all the religions and cultures. People turn to each other with prayer begging for something. Prayer can be directed at people or at the Upper Force (however a person imagines it).
Prayer contains great power because when a person feels that he is in a dead-end situation, a true prayer for help bursts forth by itself. This is a natural reaction that we call prayer, a plea, or a cry. There is also a prayer of gratitude that pours out of the heart. This action awakens enormous inner reserves of a person and brings about healing, the ability to overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable.
However, in Kabbalah “prayer” is not just any plea, but a request for correction, for attaining the goal of creation. Prior to our fall from the sensation of the Creator, we did not have prayer books because people felt the Creator and every person turned to Him from the heart, according to the verse, “A person’s soul teaches him. “Every person knew what he needed to discern and what he needed to do in order to come closer to the goal, to unite with the Creator and attain equivalence of form with Him.
This was the case before the destruction of the Temple because the entire nation lived in the higher sensation and felt what it needed to ask for. The sensation in people’s hearts was essentially the prayer. People lived by the principle, “Whatever one feels in one’s heart is what one speaks.”
People felt in their hearts an aspiration for bestowal, love for the neighbor, love for the Creator, and equivalence with Him. This was felt by the heart and therefore words were not needed. Expressing this verbally is often done for us, in order to hear ourselves and to understand what our heart feels.
This was a time when we were in a corrected state. However, then the Temple was destroyed in our hearts due to the general fall of people from “love for the neighbor” to “unfounded hatred for one another.” Thus, we stopped being similar to the Creator and lost equivalence of form with Him. Therefore, He disappeared from our sensation and we started asking for things for our egos instead of our own correction!
We ask for things that are requested by the new desire that has taken over us, our egoism. And what can egoism possibly want? It wants to feel good and for others to feel bad since then it will feel even better compared to them!
That is how our new heart, “the stony heart,” operates. Obviously, we don’t attain the true prayer until we correct our desires. But on the other hand, we still have to know what the true prayer has to be in order to understand it at least with our mind (if not with the heart), and to advance in this direction by correcting our qualities.
That is why Kabbalists composed a prayer book for us, so we would know what to ask for.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 7/12/10, “The Importance of the Prayer of the Many”