The Biblical commandment of prayer is worded as an enjoinder to serve G‑d with "all our hearts"--which the Sages understood to be a commandment to pray. Originally, everyone offered personalized prayers, employing words which expressed their unique feelings. And as feelings fluctuate, so did every individual's personal prayers fluctuate on a daily basis. Eventually, the Men of the Great Assembly instituted uniform prayer for all Jews, creating the basic text of the prayer book which is used to this very day.

But can a person's relationship with his Creator be scripted? Is it possible to dictate the feelings one should be expressing to G‑d?

Can a person's relationship with his Creator be scripted?In the teachings of Chassidut, words are considered to be "vessels"—vessels for the feelings and thoughts which generate them. Two people can say the exact same words, words which seemingly express the same sentiment, but only the "vessel" is the same, the emotions behind the words can be worlds apart. Two people can tell their spouses, "I love you"; does that mean that their love is the same, in either quantity or quality? Obviously not.

We live in a world largely obsessed with external trappings. Everything is judged by its most revealed dimension, while the essence goes unnoticed. Uniqueness is expressed through a nose-ring or sports car, not through emphasizing character and wisdom. Sometimes it is necessary to have two items which are externally alike in order to appreciate the profound difference which actually exists between the two.

The challenge we have is to create a personal prayer filled with personal feelings and sentiments — while using the same words as the person sitting next to us in the synagogue. This means truly immersing oneself in the prayer, for if the vessels are empty, if the words lack a backing of feelings and concentration, then the prayer which is being offered is actually no different than the prayer of every other John Doe.

And G‑d loves unique prayers…