We are fifty women on a bus. In my mind, I have a confused impression of names and faces, some known, mostly unknown. This doesn't bother me. I am among friends. It is Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the new month, and these women have chosen, as I have chosen, to leave behind the comfort and routine of a regular morning in order to travel together to pray at the burial place of the Matriarch, Rachel.

My friend sits beside me, but we are each alone as we prepare our thoughts. Soon we will disembark from the bus to spend a precious half-hour in prayer at this sacred holy site. After praying, we will return to our bus, to the bustle of our lives. Many of us will carry a red string on the journey home, as is the custom.

Usually, I talk to G‑d directly from my living roomI am accustomed to daily prayer. Usually, I talk to G‑d directly from my living room. I pray in the mornings, once my children leave for school. I recite Psalms in the evenings, while they sleep. Why then did I feel compelled to join this group?

I could tell you that I have special requests to pray for, and that the nature of these requests required me to make this pilgrimage. But to answer in this way would not be completely honest. It is not merely the answer that I crave. It is the conversation itself.

Prayer requires passion. It cannot be allowed to simply become a daily routine, like brushing one's teeth, or making a bed. Prayer requires focus, and intense concentration. But most of all, prayer requires an awareness that every prayer is a conversation with the Creator. To lose this awareness is to transform the dialogue into a monologue.

Prayer is referred to as avodat halev, the service of the heart. King David intergrated this idea so deeply into the core of his being that he testified "Ani Tefilati" – I am my prayer.

What propels me on this pilgrimage is the awareness that I am not my prayer, that there is a part of me that is still and silent, and does not take part in these conversations with my Creator. It is this yearning to be fully present, to be fully at prayer that brings me out of my home this morning.

We disembark the bus, and the weight of our present security situation presses down on me. What was once a simple burial structure has, by necessity, become a secure fortress. We enter deep into the compound, walking down the cold stone path that now conceals our entrance to the tomb.

Once inside, we disperse. We are no longer a group. I find my way to the side of the room, and recite the prayer that was written especially for those who visit this holy site. When I finish, I sit down and open my book of Psalms.

I recite one line. Than I close my prayer book, and open my heart. I am my prayer.