When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. Mattityahu / Matthew 6:5-15 (TEV)
God created you and so he wants you to be the real you. By being authentic when you speak to God, you worship him as you Creator.
For years I copied the prayers of other people. I noticed they used certain words and even a special tone of voice. I imitated all the religious clichés: "Lead, guide and direct us, O Lord." "Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies." "Bless the gift and the giver."
In the Besora Tova HaGeula (Good News of Redemption), we hear of people who had prayers which were wordy, meaningless rituals (some people think that speaking lots will get their answer, or even speaking in a King James version language). There is no spontaneity, no genuineness. But Maran Yeshua says don’t get caught up in fancy complicated prayer. You don’t have to use fancy language. You can’t impress God with fancy language, and you shouldn’t be trying to impress other people either.
I love to hear new believers pray — no pious pomposity. They haven’t learned the clichés yet. They just say, "Hi, God. It’s me." That’s how you make contact with God. You just talk with your Heavenly Father about what’s on your mind. Just pray your heart. Reveal yourself.
Imagine I walked in the door one evening and my kids said: "O, almighty procreator of our family. How wonderful thou art, who sovereignly deposits our allowance to us. Oh, the majesty of thy wonderful self! We beseech thee to come eat dinner with us." I’d check their temperatures to see if they were sick! I don’t want to hear that. I want them to say, "Hey! Dad’s home. Good to see you, Pop!"
I’m not saying to be flippant in prayer, but that’s how you make contact with God. You just talk with him in a genuine and heartfelt way.
Our Rabbi, Maran Yeshua gives us a model we can use as we learn to make contact with God.
Our Rabbi said: When ever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The most powerful spiritual practices are often the simplest ones – practices anyone can do if they wish to.
Hitbodedut is the Hebrew word for meditation, literally meaning self-isolation or seclusion. This may imply a literal spiritual retreat, akin to the way of the navim (prophets) in ancient times, who were prone to going out into the wilderness to seek their visions and to commune with Ha-Shem, or it may imply an inward turn of our attention and awareness – a going within to pray and meditate to commune with HaShem.
Essentially, in one way or another Hitbodedut means praying and meditating in seclusion – and it implies a very intimate and private communion with the Holy One, the source of our being. HaShem.
Indeed, very specifically he tells us to go into seclusion and pray in private. Although we can take his instruction literally and have a special room set aside for this purpose – something very good to do if we are able to do so, we can just as easily go out into the garden or some place in nature, or go to a tranquil park, or anywhere that inspires us and that we are unlikely to be disturbed. In fact, we could sit amidst people in a coffee shop, bookstore or library, stare into an open book, looking to others as though we are reading, and go within to pray and meditate. The key is that we go within, and go deeper still, secluding ourselves to speak with the Holy One and listen to the Holy One – we do this in whatever way we can, and we can do so almost any place, at any time. It is just that, naturally, a tranquil and inspiring place is most conducive and helpful, especially when we are first learning to pray and meditate.
Now, when we go within, secluding ourselves in this way we may wonder what to do or what we should say. So HaShem gives us a small prayer to begin with – once we turn within and let ourselves settle, if no prayer comes to us, we can always give thanks for all the goodness that HaShem has given us and then abide listening to that Great Silence the Holy One is.
Hitbodedut, however, isn’t really a scripted prayer, but rather it is prayers from the heart, completely uncontrived and spontaneous, unadulterated, free from any self-consciousness whatsoever – it is prayer in the fullness of faith, completely candid, open, honest, sincere, as though speaking with the Holy One as with a very close and dear friend, or as though speaking with a beloved eartly Father or Mother, or as those speaking with one’s lover. Such prayer is Hitbodedut.
Essentially, praying from the heart in this way, we praise and give thanks, and we pray about whatever arises in our heart and mind, and whatever is transpiring in our lives and the lives of those we know – and our prayer assumes the form of a very intimate and private conversation with HaShem.
When we have a conversation with someone, as much as speak we must also listen, and this is especially true when we have a conversation with the Holy One – as much as talk we need to listen, and, in fact, if we are wise, we may be inclined to listen more than talk when we entertain a dialogue with the Holy One. Our thoughts and words in prayer are like an outer chamber of hitbodedut, the deeper settling into silence to listen is like passing into an inner chamber – and with time and experience we find that we can go deeper and deeper into this stillness and silence, while remaining completely awake and alert. As this happens there is an experience of profound peace and sublime joy – it is truly amazing. Of course, in hitbodedut we can dance in-between these two chambers, passing back and forth in- between speaking and listening, and the experience of conversation with the Holy One can be a great delight, providing all manner of insights and illuminations, granting all manner of blessings and boons.
At times, hitbodedut assumes the form of a self- evaluation or life review in which we consider our life and how we are living, looking to see if we are spending our days wisely, or if there is anything in need of change, and looking into our character, our virtues and vices, and considering if there is anything we need to change or improve upon – whenever we find things in ourselves or our lives in need of change or improvement, we pray about them and we asks the Holy One for empowerment to bring about the changes we need. It is very wise to enact a self-evaluation or life review in this way often in our spiritual lives – many masters of the tradition have advised their companions to do so daily, or at least weekly. In so doing we cultivate self-awareness and self-knowledge, and we are able to enact a conscious growth and development in our lives – it is a cause for the generation of greater happiness, success and satisfaction in life, and will help make us a better person, a true human being.
Along a similar line, we may also pray about potential plans for the future, or we may seek the guidance of the Holy One, seeking direction in our lives – just as we are able to review our past, we can also envision our future as we commune with the Holy One. In the midst of the play of the past and the future in prayer it is important not to forget about the present, where you are and God is, and where you are innately connected with God, the source of your being – it is important not to give way to the delusion of lack, but to abide in the awareness of life abundant in the Holy One, and to give praise and thanks for all of the blessings the Holy One is bestowing upon you, most especially the blessing of the direct and intimate communion you have with the Holy One, anywhere, anytime.
In hitbodedut we can empower our prayers with the Names of God, – but more than anything, it is all about prayers of the heart in our own native language, an intimate and private conversation with our Good Friend, our Beloved, the Holy One of Being. Hitbodedut can and does, indeed, lead to some very deep states of meditation, and it can lead to experiences of higher consciousness; likewise it can lead to experiences of Ruach HaKodesh, vision and prophecy, and the arising of all manner of spiritual gifts. Yet, when understood, it is a very simple practice – so simple that even a very little child can be taught to do it. Go within and pray to God from your heart, and as much as speaking, remember to listen! This is how we would teach this to a little child, and to adults too! This is the essence of hitbodedut.
There is no doubt that our Rabbi Maran Yeshua taught other spiritual practices to his disciples – but this is the essence and foundation, and all other practices extend from this. Here we may say that this foundation alone is enough for a very full spiritual life and practice – there is nothing lacking in it; and likewise we may say that this hitbodedut is perhaps among the best practices for these times in the fullness of faith, enacting an active and dynamic surrender, relying upon Divine Grace. When we pray in this way and then abide in silence, listening, it corresponds directly to the practice of “going within and holding the conscious intention of the reception of the Light from above” – that’s hitbodedut in a nutshell!
If you practice this daily for about an hour you will be doing very well and make good progress in your interior life, and likewise you will find a flow of many blessings in your life – an unimaginable flow of grace. Of course, it is wise to begin with a shorter duration of practice and build it up over time – an hour being the basic goal after a little while. If you take up no other practice, then take this one up!
Pray: O Holy One, may we abide continually in communion with You – may we learn to abide in hitbodedut as our Rabbi, Maran Yeshua tough us. Amen.
Tags: clich, contact with god, fancy language, genuineness, heavenly father, hey dad, hisbodedus, Hitbodedut, Introduction to Personal Prayer, Jewish meditation, king james version, Maran, meaningless words, new believers, nourishment, o lord, pagans, pomposity, rituals, secluded meditation, Secluded Prayer, spontaneity, tev, tone of voice, version language, Videos Hitbodedut, Yeshua
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