It is not enough
to give my heart
to G-d
for my own peace.

I give You my heart
for the peace of the world,
for every person in the world,
for all life living.

Every pain, every sadness,
every hurt and heartache,
I give You,
for Your healing.

I was sad one day. Turning to G-d in prayer, I found my greatest relief, my greatest “letting go” of all that bothered me, in forgetting myself completely and praying only for others.

Asking G-d for things is only a part of prayer — and a small one, at that. It’s called “petitioning” or “petitionary prayer.”

The higher purpose of prayer is for us to forget ourselves completely.

Petitionary prayer has the danger of going on for too long. It can turn into an endless recitation of all that we think is wrong and an unending begging of G-d that all be changed to our satisfaction. In this, the focus stays on us and our problems, never rising to awareness of G-d.

In prayer, G-d must be more important and more real to us than the problem.

I think that’s at least partly why the K’nesset Ha-G’do’lah — the “Great Synagogue” — created the wording of the Amidah as 18 short blessings, tersely inclusive of all that might concern us. What’s more, as a kind of “interim step” to forgetting about ourselves, it’s worded as a prayer we say for others as well as ourselves: “Heal us…” They were telling us that, while praying, to have others in mind more than ourselves. This wasn’t just a pleasant social custom. It was based on an essential element of how prayer itself works.

In the Baal Shem Tov’s praying, he rose to a level of self-forgetfulness where he perceived that it wasn’t him praying at all — it was the Shechinah praying while he watched!

Let us make G-d and others more important than ourselves in our prayer.