Hasidic Masters on Prayer: Rising Up to God

Know that each word of prayer is a complete self.
If all of your strength is not in it,
it is born incomplete,
like one lacking a limb.

* * *

If prayer is pure and untainted,
surely that holy breath
that rises from your lips
wil join with the breath of heaven
that is always flowing
into you from above.
Thus our masters have taught the verse
“Every breath shall praise Him”:
with every single breath that you breathe,
He is praised.
As the breath leaves you, it ascends to God,
and then it returns to you from above.
Thus that part of God
which is within you
is reunited with its source.

* * *

Do not think that the words of prayer
as you say them
go up to God.
It is not the words themselves that ascend:
it is rather the burning desire of your heart
that rises like smoke toward heaven.
If your prayer consists only of words and letters,
and does not contain your heart’s desire—
how can it rise up to God?

from Your Word is Fire – The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer
ed. & tr. Arthur Green and Barry W. Holtz

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