Are short, few-second prayers permissible, or should prayer be more formal? For example, if I hear news that a family member is not feeling well, am I able to pray, "Please be with them that they may be in good health?" What types of prayer exist in the Torah and, more broadly, Tanakh?

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    – Joel K
    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 13:01
  • @JoelK Does Hashem keeping her out of the camp for 7 days at all imply that He does not approve of such conversational prayer? Does He consider it as being like a spit in the face that you didn't do a more formal prayer? I'm not suggesting this is the case. In fact without knowing better or not, I engage in conversational prayer.I just ask bc I see the very next verse with Hashem's response is not clear whether He approves or not, or whether the response is not related to the fact the prayer was conversational, so I am asking, but not implying anything.Examples were only to demo what Im asking Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 13:05
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    It is absolutely permitted, as the Ramchal writes, Judaism is about developing a close attachment to God, as such speaking with him, asking, praying, are all part of normative behaviors. There are some good books on prayers that go into detail into this - ask if you want recommendations
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 3:15
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    And generally there are three types of prayers: requests, praise and thanks. You can find all three types in the morning prayers for instance
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 3:16
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    @MauriceMizrahi I had not seen this before. Interesting. A source would be great. I am not sure a chat qualifies as prayer in the formal sense. But I might be mistaken
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


There are four types of prayer: thanks/praise, petition, questions, and chat. Rav Naḥman of Breslov emphasized the last one, without discounting the value of the other three. He preached that, to be close to God, you have to speak to God “as you would with a best friend”, in your own words, in your mother tongue, at least one hour a day; preferably in a natural setting, such as a field or a forest, among the natural works of God's creation, to avoid man-made distractions. He called it hitbodedut, meaning “self-seclusion”. It is central to his thinking. He described it as follows:

It is very good to pour out your thoughts before God like a child pleading before his father. God calls us His children, as it is written [in the Torah]: "You are children to God." [Deuteronomy 14:1] Therefore, it is good to express your thoughts and troubles to God like a child complaining and pestering his father.

As one commentator described it:

During a session of hitbodedut, the practitioner pours out his heart to God in his own language, describing all his thoughts, feelings, problems and frustrations. Nothing was viewed by Rebbe Naḥman as being too mundane for discussion, including business dealings, conflicting desires and everyday interactions. Even the inability to properly articulate what one wishes to say is viewed as a legitimate subject to discuss with God. One should also use the opportunity to examine his behavior and motivations, correcting the flaws and errors of the past while seeking the proper path for the future.

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    "There are four types of prayer: thanks/praise, petition, questions, and chat." How do you know that?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 0:10
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    @DoubleAA -- Honestly, I don't remember my source. It's been a while. I'll get back to you. Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 1:01
  • Still can't find my old source, but maybe we can derive the four kinds logically. Prayer is when you address God directly. Our services focus on the first two: thanks/praise and petition. What else can you say to God? You can ask questions and you can just chat, as Rav Nachman (and Tevye) like to do. Can't think of a fifth kind of prayer. Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 22:49
  • Why group thanks with praise? Why is chat different from direct address? (Among other reasons hwy this is not a convincing derivation)
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 22:55
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    You want to split them? Split them. Take five. We are arguing over nothing. Commented Mar 31, 2022 at 22:57

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