Close your eyes and imagine yourself relaxing on the warm sand of a tropical beach. You see the deep hues of the sun setting over the sky, reflecting and glinting on the ocean. Can you see it? Does it feel real? Can you focus just a bit more until you can describe it in vivid detail?

Our imagination is a wonderful thing. BecauseImagination is a wonderful thing there is seeing with your physical eye, which leaves an impression so strong that no one can convince you that you did not witness what your eye has seen. You can’t “unsee” it. And then there is your imagination, and seeing with your mind’s eye, where you can experience something so intensely that you feel as if you have actually just seen it.

Prayer is an exercise of the imagination. On an external level, we are using our voice. As we read, “The voice is the voice of Jacob,”1 Jews have a double voice—the voice of Torah learning and the voice of prayer, each with its own unique characteristics. But while the voice is uttering words of praise, thanks and supplication, the goal is for the heart to swell with a palpable love of G‑d. And how does that happen? Through our imagination.

The goal is for us to see the truth so strongly with our mind’s eye that no one can convince us out of it. In order to love G‑d, we need to concentrate intently on the truth of His existence—on that fact that He is the true giver of life, that He is the Creator and life force of every created being. And just like we love our own life, we come to love the Eternal source of our life.

It’s not theoretical, but experiential. Prayer is about developing a relationship with G‑d, a loving relationship. It’s about having an “aha moment” each and every morning, and for our thoughts to shape our feelings.

I can watch the mechanism in my body to gain this recognition. I can observe that my body cannot operate without a soul, much like a device cannot operate without a battery. I can meditate on that and come to the conclusion, and see with my mind’s eye that the entire universe cannot exist without a G‑dly battery sustaining it into existence. This is what is intended with the verse mibesari echezeh Elokah—“from my flesh I shall see G‑d.”2

As I pray, I can concentrate on the prayers that speak so eloquently of G‑d’s majesty, and of the Divine providence that is the source of celestial bodies and all earthly creatures. My brain guides my heart“You have made the skies, the skies of skies and all their hosts, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them; and You give life to all of them, and the heavenly hosts bow before You.” The sun rising in the East and setting in the West, bowing to the West, where the Shechina (the Divine presence) rests, is a symbolic nod and acknowledgment that G‑d is its life force. If heavenly bodies can give their testament to G‑d’s kingship, then so can I.

With such detailed, expressive imagery, my brain guides my heart to come along with it. My concentration, meditation and imagination bears fruits. The brain is impressed, and the heart feels it. We come to the Shema prayer and say that we love G‑d, bichol levavcha, which implies “with both of our hearts.” This means the heart of our G‑dly soul, which always loved G‑d, but also the heart of our animalistic soul, which has experienced that “aha moment,” and recognizes that physicality and all its pleasures doesn’t hold a candle to spiritual truths.

Nothing can now convince the animalistic soul out of what it has just seen and experienced—the truth of a G‑dly reality, as can be seen with our mind’s eye.

Source: Inspired by Likutei Torah, Hakol Kol Ya’akov, Chapter 1, as explained in Chassidut Mevueret, Avodat HaTefillah.