old time strong man bar bending

On Struggling with Exercise and with Prayer

Exercise and Not Making Excuses

I recently started an exercise program, thanks to the great, 100% free (no BS) site www.neilarey.com which made it ridiculously easy to get started. I’ve struggled for years to find a regular exercise routine to help me stay healthy. I tried running but my flat feet made it too painful. I tried an elliptical machine in our house (given away by some friends) but found it too boring and time consuming. Eventually I found this routine that I can do at home, with no equipment, with no payment, and with a short daily time commitment. I decided I would accept ‘no excuses.’ Even if the timing doesn’t seem right, if I just had a meal or am hungry, if my muscles are sore, if I have the sniffles (but not if I have a fever!). And y’know, I may not always have a stellar workout, but I’ve made it almost every day for the last two months and it feels great.

Struggling with Daily Prayer

praying Jew
“The Praying Jew” painting by Aleksander Grodzicki

I have an ongoing struggle with daily prayer as well. Everybody who is committed to a Jewish life certainly has some aspect, or two, or ten, that they struggle with, and rabbis are no exception. And I don’t just struggle to have ‘proper intentions’ during my prayers, to properly incline my heart to G-d. I struggle to get myself to do it at all. There are ‘external’ circumstances I can blame this trouble on, mainly an eye condition that makes reading for extended periods painful (yes, even large text). Because of this, trying to do the entire daily prayers becomes painful and frustrating. When I sit in the synagogue with a minyan (the prayer quorum of ten, required by Jewish law) to pray I either strain my eyes to read too much and give myself a headache or get frustrated and bored sitting waiting as they go through parts of the service I’ve decided to skip.

My Exhausting Dance with G-d

Praying in the synagogue, for me, is the equivalent of running with flat feet. Ideally I would love to do it, but it’s too painful. So most of the time I pray at home, doing the minimum required by halachah (Jewish law), giving particular attention to the parts I know by heart and can therefore recite slowly without hurting my eyes. It’s a dance I do with myself and with G-d, when to push myself to go to synagogue and when not, how much of the prayers to do and what to leave out. This dance can be emotionally and spiritually exhausting, and sometimes I simply don’t pray three times a day as I know and believe that I should. I am considering adopting a similar ‘no excuses’ attitude for my daily prayers and am sharing that process here. I’ll update you all on how it goes.

In the mean time, please share something of what you struggle with in your religious/spiritual routine? What (if any) strategies have you found helpful? And no, this question is not just comment-bait, but me asking for ideas that might help!

2 Comments

  1. Ygor

    I would like to ask for prayer for gnucaide. I would like to ask for prayer for my finances. I would like to ask for prayer for true happiness and strength to put God back into my life as i was raised by both my mother and father.Thank you Jesus for always watching over me. Thank you for the trials and tribulations that you have guided me through, it has made me a stronger person. Thank you for my job. Thank you for the life that you have given me along with my children.Amen, Amen and Amen AgainI am so grateful for everything nad everyone.

  2. Jill Shames

    I take a very much “in training” attitude towards prayer. I go in with no expectations– rain or shine. For me praying, like training, is about continuity. It is not about ascending Sinai at each moment; it is about infusing every moment with that potential by keeping an open channel between us, our People Israel and our G-d. And what I can’t say through prayer, I “speak” through meditation— כי לך דומיה תהילה–“For to You, silence is praise”/

Comments are closed.