Question: What is a prayer?
Answer: A prayer is called work in the heart. But why is it work? Don’t I know what I want? No. I don’t know what I want, and I don’t know what to want—this is all our work—to stabilize ourselves correctly.
But if this is a deficiency, what can I do? A baby cries not knowing the reason why, he simply feels bad. A person who has revealed different Reshimot (reminiscences), has felt the taste of receiving and bestowal and already knows what makes him feel bad and what makes him feel good, so he can point at a specific deficiency. It isn’t just a deficiency, not in form, but a deficiency in which there are different depictions and discernments.
So what do we have to do? Not just to cry out like a baby, but to find out what it is exactly that you want. Suppose I want to love a friend whom I don’t love. I have to feel a deficiency for that. It says: “Make your desire like his.” But how can I do that if I don’t have any desire for it?
Perform different actions and by them you will see to what extent you don’t want it. But by performing these actions, you have invested your powers and these powers bring you sorrow that you don’t want the things you should actually want.
I want to buy a house, for example, but in order to do that I have to exert myself, to go to work, and to trouble myself. I have no power to do that and no desire, but I do want to buy a house. This is wrong. A person should process his desire so that the desire will be connected to the goal.
So what is a prayer? A prayer is not just a request that I have now, it is a series of actions in which I stabilize the request I will later live by. Each time I process and correct my deficiency to a greater degree so that my prayer will be processed as correctly as possible, more accurately and more sharply.
A prayer is called Malchut, a deficiency, and I must constantly worry about it. There is nothing else I should worry about, but the right deficiency. So it says: “If only he prayed all day long.” It isn’t the same prayer as a person who falls to the ground or reads from the Siddur (prayer book). No. A prayer is when I clarify internally, as it says about Malchut: “I am a prayer.” This means that a person says, “This is my prayer, this is my deficiency!” And it isn’t that it is written somewhere or something that I have heard or have been taught.
So “I am a prayer” means to cleanse myself of different external impressions and to clarify internally my true deficiency, my “self.” This is Malchut. To such a prayer, a person receives an answer from Above, since it is a clarified deficiency.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/19/12, The Zohar