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Forms of Prayer : A Conversation

I do not like the usual definitions of the different forms of prayer. There are times I plead with God, others when I pester, or argue, demand, rejoice, reason, sigh, praise, express love, use confidence, or kvetch. I find each approach effective in its proper context.

For example: If God is truly the third partner in bringing a child into the world, I will not plead for my children as much as demand that the third partner do His/Her part.

If I am stuck in understanding a passuk or Midrash etc. I picture it almost as being teased with love. Torah is described as the deepest expression of God’s love for us. I respond with love.

When I pray for someone who is ill, I don’t always use the typical Jewish cry for a miracle as much as say, “If it’s true that You are the Ultimate Healer; Do Your Stuff! “

When I ask students and other people in synagogue how they daven, they do not even understand the question. I feel that I am fighting a losing battle. Perhaps I should focus on our relationshipS with God before discussing prayer.

I have been struggling with this column and have decided to attempt to turn it into a conversation. It began with a conversation with Lou Fridkis who demanded clarity about prayer. I would like to use this column to answer questions about praying in different situations. I hope to turn this into a forum on prayer. Please email your prayer questions to

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