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What part of שחרית would you identify as "prayer"?

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1 Answer 1

When the g'mara used the term "shacharis" it referred to Sh'moneh Esre, all of which is prayer. Likewise, when it used the term t'fila, generally translated as "prayer", it meant Sh'moneh Esre alone. It is a 3- (or 4-, including supplemental petitions at the end) part prayer, beginning with praise, continuing with requests, and concluding with gratitude.

If you are referring to the entirety of the recitation in the morning, from Modeh Ani through Alenu L'shabe'ach, and using a broader definition of "prayer" than above, then the question may be more easily addressed by asking which parts are not prayer. Everything that contains one of the aforementioned elements of praise, request, or gratitude can rightly be considered prayer, which leaves a small number of obligatory blessings at the beginning, and the recital of Sh'ma.

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...but I think most people would informally consider said obligatory blessings and Sh'ma "prayer" too. – msh210 Jun 30 '11 at 13:22
@msh210 Good point. I might have mentioned that I assumed the questioner was looking for more precision than the colloquialism. I will edit in a note. – WAF Jun 30 '11 at 15:50
@msh210 Yes, but Sh'ma would not be prayer. The saying of Shema is the fulfillment of the obligation to say Shema twice a day. It is the reading of verses that are in the Torah. It is not prayer. (Berachot 2b) – RCW Jul 1 '11 at 1:37
Thank you for your answer. I just need a little clarification. Are you suggesting that the Tehilim that are said. such as everything between Baruch Sheamar and Az Yashir are considered prayer? Tehilim as I understand it are simply verses David composed that are considered Ketuvim. They are not prayer. – RCW Jul 1 '11 at 1:42
@RCW Basically, yes. There are many types of prayer (13 according to one version of one midrash on D'varim 3!) and many of them comprise forms in which the pirkei T'hilim were written. Although not our own original words, we adopt the words of T'hilim to express our own spiritual purposes, which sometimes consist of requests, other times of descriptive praise, and yet other times of questions and stories, all of which can constitute prayer if utilized in the right way (such as the way Chaza"l laid out for us between Baruch She'amar and Yishtabach). – WAF Jul 1 '11 at 2:24

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