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I have a new philosophy (of course Beli Neder): never Daven before you have Hizuk. Now, sometimes I like to sing a Niggun (Shifchi by Reb Shlomo) or say some Bakashot (specifically Agadelcha by Iben Ezra). Does anyone have any special Tefilot/Bakashot/Pesukim/Sayings/Thoughts that bring Kawana in the Tefila?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Mishnah Berurah (98:1) cites Eliyah Rabbah, who in turn cites Kitzur Shaloh, that "a segulah for removing extraneous thoughts is, before praying, to pass one's right hand three times across his forehead, and each time, say the verse לב טהור ברא לי אלקים ורוח נכון חדש בקרבי (Ps. 51:12)."

However, kavanah involves more than just removing distracting thoughts; as Rema there states, one should contemplate, before praying, the greatness of Hashem and the lowliness of man. The Chabad approach to this is to study Chassidus before prayer, since these (particularly the first) are major themes developed extensively in that literature. In one of his talks (excerpted here), the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l indeed points out that putting oneself in this frame of mind is a vital necessity in order to be able to approach Hashem and speak to Him.

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Thank you. What Chassidus are you talking about specifically? Can you specify and sources? – Hacham Gabriel Jan 2 '12 at 3:45
@HachamGabriel: I was talking specifically about Chabad Chassidus (I'm not really familiar enough with the writings of other branches of Chassidus to speak with any authority about them). There is an enormous literature of it, but some good ones to start with include: parts of Tanya (notably chs. 26-28, practical advice for overcoming negative thoughts in prayer, and 46-49, ways to develop love of Hashem), and several discourses (maamarim) by R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi, which have been recently republished with commentary and explanations as חסידות מבוארת - עבודת התפילה. – Alex Jan 2 '12 at 21:33
Thank you. I meant specifically Chabad Chadissus. – Hacham Gabriel Jan 2 '12 at 21:42
True story, the day before and yesterday I believe I did this thing correctly, and it worked. Today, I forgot to do it, my mind wasn't as settled as the days before. – Hacham Gabriel Jan 5 '12 at 2:00

Personally speaking I find several things helpful in inspiring oneself before tefilla:

  • Poetry often works, if one concentrates on its simultaneous meaning and eloquence. My favorites are Adon Olam by Ibn Gabirol (found at the beginning of almost any siddur), and Odeh La'El by R' Shemayahu (found in some siddurim in the "Seudah Shlishit" section). To each his own.
  • Many siddurim include the composition "...לעולם יהא אדם ירא שמים" or some variant of it, which I find very helpful if there is time to have extra kavanna during its recitation.
  • Someone else told me they like to say the "תפילות קודם התפלה" found in the beginning of many Chassidic siddurim.
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Tefilot kodem ha-tefilah are very good to say. – Adam Mosheh Jun 19 '12 at 2:38

The book: A call to the Infinite is full of many quotes that one might want to read,say before davening to inspire them to daven.

Also, the book Kuzari, is said by R. Kook to be the essence of learning true Emunah in Hashem. (Completely unrelated to the "Kuzari proof") The book likely has many passages that one can read regarding the special connection Jews have to Hashem and prayer. For example there is a shiur here based on the Kuzari that focuses specifically on the structured nature of prayer

Something, I think about myself sometimes, is how many things we pray for have come to fruition, and many things which we pray for have come and gone and come again.

Channa's prayer, used as the Haftorah for Rosh Hashana, the source for the way we behave in the Amida can also be of inspiration.

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Thanks Avi! I love R' Arye Kaplan books – Hacham Gabriel Jan 2 '12 at 15:12
@HachamGabriel no problem. I just saw the link I linked to, and as a warning, the book is only quotes. There is no "analysis" or "commentary" other than the chapter headings and order the quotes are put in. It was published after his death. – avi Jan 2 '12 at 16:34
Sefer ha-Kuzari, according to R' Zvi Yuda ha-Kohen Kuk (iirc), is kodesh kodashim. – Adam Mosheh Jun 19 '12 at 2:43

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