I've been struggling with my prayers. I'm doing my best to stay in the game, but I find it difficult to motivate myself to pray properly. I just don't find myself in the mood. What do you suggest I do to get back in the game?


I'm reminded of a story about a man who complained to the Tzemach Tzedek (1789-1866, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe) that he doesn't enjoy studying Torah. The Rebbe responded, "And what am I to do that I do enjoy it...?"

There will always be times when we aren't in the mood to pray, learn, or do a mitzvah. One would think that forcing ourselves to do so anyways would result in dry acts, divorced from any real connection to G‑d. But in truth, it is times such as these that really demonstrate our deepest connection with our Father in heaven.

In other words, it's no big deal to do a mitzvah when it's enjoyable and inspiring. At those times it can be difficult to know whether you're doing it for G‑d or to satisfy your own spiritual needs. But on days when you're not interested... and you do it anyways... think to yourself: "This is for You, G‑d!" And G‑d gets incredible satisfaction from such acts!

That's good for the start, and also for those inevitable moments when you will be uninspired no matter your efforts. For a long-term goal, however, find ways to make prayer meaningful. Start with one section of the prayers and work on it for days or even weeks, until is means something to you.

Say it every day thinking your own thoughts—truly speaking to G‑d what's on your mind, within the framework of that particular prayer.

Then slowly but surely, add another section, and another one...

Yours truly,

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar