The Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer begins his first treatise1 written for the students of the Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, 2 with these words:

Inasmuch as all the Chasidim inquire as to how one is to pray, and how one is to serve G‑d through worship, I will explain this subject briefly.

Prayer is the foundation of Torah and mitzvot in their entirety. Hence, the first step in approaching the service of G‑d must be through prayer. Our sages tell us that nowadays prayers take the place of the sacrificial offerings offered in the Sanctuary. 3 These offerings required several conditions: confession, placing one's hands on the offering, ritual slaughter, sprinkling its blood, and burning its fats. Above all, the following had to be clear: the identity of one bringing the offering; the significance of the offering; and to Whom it was being sacrificed.

In prayer, too, these same conditions are found. The worshipper is the one bringing the offering. The prayers themselves include many analogies to the sacrifices. A sacrifice symbolized the subjugation of the person's natural traits and habits. sometimes prayers contain a confession and other aspects of the offering. Primarily, prayer addresses the fulfillment of a need. One must realize, then, that one lacks something, and what, quantitatively and qualitatively, it is that one lacks. A petition for a trivial need cannot be compared to the depth and feeling of a supplication for a need that touches one's soul.

Similarly, one must be cognizant of the authority and stature of the person to whom the plea is directed. Making a request of a minor official is quite different than pleading before one vested with power over life and death. Therefore, a person must know the scope of authority and the degree of power wielded by the one to whom the petition is addressed.

Divine judgment and anger are different from their counterparts in mortals. In the Talmud4 we find the following account:

When Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai became ill, his students visited him. Seeing them, he wept. They exclaimed, 'Light of Israel! Pillar of strength! Mighty Hammer! Why do you weep?' Replied the Sage, 'Were I being led before a mortal king, who is here today and in the grave tomorrow; who, if he should be angry with me, his anger is not eternal, and if he should imprison me, the imprisonment is not everlasting, and if he should kill me, it is not for eternity; whom I can appease with words or bribe with money-nonetheless I would weep. Now that I am being led before the King of Kings, the Eternal, Whose anger is eternal, Who can imprison me for eternity, Who can decree eternal death for me, Whom I can neither placate with words nor bribe with money. . . .'

Though prayer is the expression of the heart's innermost depths, it must satisfy certain conditions: self-appraisal i.e., awareness of the petitioner's own character, is he worthy enough? if not, is he improving himself to attain worthiness?; understanding of the importance of prayer, and meditation on Him to Whom one is praying.