Why Kavanah?

When most people say the same prayers day after day, you might expect that the prayers would become old and very routine in nature. However, this may be true for some people who pray, but this is not the intention of the Jewish people and how they prayer. Frame of mind is vital to prayer. The mindset for prayer is referred to as "Kavanah," which is generally translated as "concentration" or "intent" and sometime "heart focus."

The minimum level of Kavanah is an awareness that one is speaking to God with the intention, that God hears us. In addition, it is preferred that you have a mind free from all other thoughts, but not empty as the New Age teaches. However, this is not always the case with some people. We must remember God know our hearts, He know if we are focused on Him. We should know and understand what we are praying about, and that we should think about the meaning of the prayer. Prayer is talking to God, who is as close to us as our heart beat.

Starting Prayer:

Singing to God is the best way to start prayer. An aid can be liturgical melodies, (the Shema or the Lord's Prayer), they can give us a proper mindset to come into His presence. These can increase your focus on what you are doing and block out all other thoughts. This is the way I like to start my season of prayer. "Sing unto God, sing praises to His Name: extol Him that rideth upon the Heavens by His Name YAH, and rejoice before Him." (Psalm 68:4)

Dancing before the Lord:

Dancing before God can be a very wonderful way to focus on the Lord for some. Doing what King David did upon bring up the Ark to Jerusalem can be a wonderful way to pray to God (I Chr 15:29). Hebrew dancing is very old, and very rewarding to you and to God. The Word of God tells us: "Let them praise His Name in the dance: let them sing praises unto Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with Salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds." (Psalm 149:3-5)

Lifting holy hands, and moving:

I also have found it useful to lift my hands in prayer. "Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle." (Psalm 28:2) I also move while I'm praying. Traditional Jewish Rabbi's move in a swaying action, back and forth during prayer, they do this because of Psalm 35, which says "All my limbs shall declare, 'O Lord, who is like You?'" Movement is not required by the Torah, yet many in the Jewish world, and the Christian world do it. Some people may find it distracting, but I personally find that it helps me concentrate and focus even more on God. Whatever your style, sway or not, just pray with all your HEART and God will hear!

What is the best time to pray with Kavanah:

The best time to pray is "anytime"! Prayer should be a "always and anytime" thing. I pray in the bed, shower, chair at the dinner table, and even in the car, anywhere is the best place, just do not save your praying for Saturday or Sunday only. I love to go to a pretty place were there is flowers to look at, or flowing water. Also a place with a great view can inspire you to pray. The Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem in spring is one of my favorite's.