What Is a Prayer?
Everything, great or small, is obtained only by the power of faith. And the reason why we must toil and labor is only to discover our lack of power and our lowliness—that we are unfit for anything by our own strength. And then we are ready to pour out a whole prayer before Him. [That is, our entire work comes down to the realization of our hopelessness and our desire to reach the goal by the Creator’s mercy.]
We could argue about that, “If this is so, then I will decide in advance that I am good for nothing, and why all the trouble and effort?” However, there is a law in nature that none is as wise as the experienced. Before a person actively tries to do all that is within his power, he is completely unfit to arrive at true lowliness, in the true measure mentioned above.
Hence, we must toil [in any way we can] in Kedusha (holiness) and purity, as it is written, “Whatsoever you find that you can do by your own strength, do,” and understand that for it is deep and true.
Even though you do not see a thing, since even when the required measure of labor has been made, this is the time for prayer, until then, believe in our sages, “I did not labor and found, do not believe.” When the required measure is reached, your prayer will be whole and the Creator will respond generously, as our sages instructed us, “I labored and found, believe,” for prior to that, you are unfit for prayer, and the Creator hears a prayer.
[In other words, one has to reach a sufficient desire for the goal: bestowal and love of the created beings and the Creator. He has to realize that he will not reach that goal by himself, by his own strength, and the desire for the entire result must be for the Creator’s sake. All of this together constitutes the intention “for the sake of the Creator.”]
– Baal HaSulam, Letter No. 57