Hasidic Masters on Prayer: Through You the Words are Spoken

Hasidic Judaism arose in what is now western Ukraine during the 18th C, emphasising the all-pervading, omnipresent nature of the Divine Presence, and the necessity to hold fast to God at all times.

Why are we told to recite the verse
“O Lord, open my lips
and let my mouth declare your praise”
before our most sacred prayer?
Like banks to a river,
lips form the outer edges of human speech.
We pray that God may release us from those limits,
so that our mouths may declare
His endless praise.

* * *

As a person begin his prayer, reciting the words:
“O Lord, open my lips
and let my mouth declare your praise”
the Presence of God comes into him.
Then it is the Presence herself
who commands his voice;
it is she who speaks the words through him.
One who knows in faith
that all this happens within him
will be overcome with trembling
and with awe.

* * *

There are times when the love of God
burns so powerfully within your heart
that the words of prayer seem to rush forth,
quickly and without deliberation.
At such times it is not you yourself who speak;
rather it is through you
that the words are spoken.

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

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