All of us pray for our personal needs. Sometimes in synagogue, during formal prayer, but more often — at almost any time during our daily lives, wherever we are.

I’d guess that many people, asked how they pray, would answer, “I don’t know.” The prayer might be nothing more than a wish, expressed within our own hearts, that G-d “take care” of a problem in our lives, or in the lives of those we love.

How do you pray?

With a minyan? Alone?

Walking? Standing? Sitting? Kneeling? Lying down?

Eyes open? Closed?

Speaking your words of prayer verbally? Mentally? Speaking words at all?

Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein, founder of the Society of Jewish Science, taught a form of personal, non-liturgical prayer called “Visualization” or “Visualized prayer.”  This kind of prayer can be done anywhere  — but preferably where you can sit quietly, undisturbed, for 15 minutes or more.

In this type of prayer, you use your imagination — you choose a mental image. But unlike the familiar kind of petitionary prayer in which we ask G-d to please (maybe) help us with an overwhelming problem — all the while imagining the problem —  in Visualized prayer, we choose a mental image not of the problem, but of the solution.

“In these mental prayers, there should never be formed any negative images…[one] should see always with his [or her] mental vision only the state in which he [or she] desires to be…” [1]

Are you sad? Do you want cheer? Visualize yourself as cheerful.

Are you anxious? Do you want calmness? Visualize yourself as calm.

The Divine Mind in you — the level of your own mind that is both highest and deepest — invariably responds in kind to every thought you put before it.

I have much to say about this type of prayer, but one of its strongest points is that it’s a definable skill that can be taught, practiced and mastered with relative ease. So much so that Mrs. Tehillah Lichtenstein, the Rabbi’s wife — his chief student and his successor as leader of the Society of Jewish Science — writing almost 20 years after him, used language that clearly reflects the same principles:

“When we pray with the imagination, when we visualize our prayer, when we see with our mind’s eye the state in which we wish to be, we are addressing our prayer to the Divine forces within ourselves; we are invoking them into action by the visualized declaration of that which we wish to attain.” [2]

Some of my most satisfying moments as a teacher have been those in which I was able to impart this to individuals and groups.

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[1] Lichtenstein, Rabbi Morris; Prayer; Jewish Science and Health (c. 1925), p. 51
[2] Lichtenstein, Tehillah; When to Pray and How to Pray; Jewish Science Interpreter, Apr., 1940; p. 4