There's a war going on.

No, I don't mean Georgia. Nor Iraq. Nor Afghanistan.

I mean you. And me. But the war isn't between us. It's within us. Or at least it should be.

After all, we have two opposing forces within each of us. There's the responsible, selfless, visionary part of the psyche (the 'G‑dly soul' in Kabbalistic lingo). And then there's the shallower, self-centered, creature-comfort-seeking dimension (the 'animal soul' in Kabbalistic terms). These two internal forces are always pulling my attention in opposite directions.

It's war. And I need to be on constant alert.

It's not even about grappling with major moral enticements; it's more insidious than that. It's about the struggle to pay proper attention to relationships, to be fully engaged in my five year old's story, to be fully present in my actions. It's about struggling with my weaker self.

Let's not understate the reality: It's a real battle. And it never stops; unless I've totally caved in to my weaker side.

Interestingly, Kabbalistic writings refer to prayer as a "time of combat." At first blush, that strikes me as odd. Prayer seems more synonymous with peace than with war, wouldn't you think?

But with the above, we begin to understand the idea. Prayer is about getting a firmer grip on ourselves. It's about cutting through layers of self-image and defense mechanisms; it's about recognizing counter-productive patterns so that we can break their paralyzing hold on our lives.

When I pray, I need to seriously focus on who I need to be, as compared to who I am. I need to overcome my instinct to look the other way, and embrace the unpleasantness that comes with facing my weaker self.

Framing prayer as a battle also helps me to appreciate the value of communal prayer. I don't want to stand alone in battle; there's strength in numbers.

When I pray, I'm supported by my comrades' effort to overcome the impediments that stand between us and our potential. It's a team effort; each of us strengthening the other by our very presence and commitment to self-actualization.

Yes, it's war. But some things are worth fighting for.