Say you have a very good king--he is very nice to his servants and makes the country prosperous and peaceful for everyone. Wouldn't he find it annoying if one of his servants praised him daily, three times a day: for one hour in the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and another 30 minutes in the evening. Wouldn't the king prefer for his servants to continue carrying out his commandments to continue the success of the country?

We do exactly that: Shacharit, Minhah and Arvit. Also halalchically speaking--aside from reading the Shema twice a day--is it a commandment derabanim to pray shemonah esray and the rest? A source would be appreciated.

  • 2
    Wouldn't the king also find it annoying to know every time every subject of his used the facilities? God is not human.
    – msh210
    Jul 30, 2013 at 19:42
  • @msh210, Yes but the comparison of God to a king is constantly made in mussar and the like.
    – Ani Yodea
    Jul 30, 2013 at 20:26
  • To pray is de'oraisa. To pray Shemone Esrei 3 times a day is DeRabannan Jul 30, 2013 at 21:25
  • A more hashkafic reason can be to remind us of his existence, and that everything is in his hands (to avoid Kochi VeOtzem Yodi). Jul 30, 2013 at 21:27
  • @ShmuelBrin, can you provide the verse for the de'oraisa commandment?
    – Ani Yodea
    Jul 31, 2013 at 10:27

3 Answers 3


1) Ultimately we pray because the king commanded us in this specific service.

2) To say that Hashem would find something annoying is ascribing human emotion and limitation to Him. The Torah can describe Hashem in those terms; we cannot.

3) "Much better for the king" -- Hashem is not lacking in any way, and thus does not need our tefillos or our mitzvos; He has commanded us to pray for our own benefit entirely. See Sefer HaChinuch 433 for some ideas on the topic.

4) "I don't see a reason to pray" -- and in true Western spirit I am the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong.

5) "we could spend the extra time" -- Time that has been given to you by Hashem to pray can hardly be considered "extra".

5) "Instead of praying we could spend the extra time doing things like Kivod Av Veam and Vehovta Lericha Kimocha." -- This statement seems to imply that the mitzvos which are bein adam l'chaveiro are somehow more important than the mitzvos which are ben adam lamakom. Hashem commanded us in all these mitzvos, and they are therefore all equally valuable to us. (I agree that He also gave us rules of preference -- e.g. if it is a choice between desecrating Shabbos and speaking loshon hora, we should speak loshon hora -- but we cannot conclude that loshon hora is somehow less important than Shabbos and we can therefore treat it lightly.)

  • 1
    In other words, your answer is that we pray because Hashem told us to. Jul 31, 2013 at 17:16
  • 2
    @Shmuel In other words, you're saying that he's saying the answer is In Hachi Nami it doesn't make sense but we do it anyway as a Chok. That's a weak answer IMO
    – Double AA
    Jul 31, 2013 at 17:27
  • 1
    @ZevSpitz, yes Hashem or the Rabbanim commanded us to pray, but if a reason was offered wouldn't that make tefillah that much more powerful?
    – Ani Yodea
    Jul 31, 2013 at 20:31
  • @AniYodea "What purpose does our prayer serve?" is potentially a very different question than, "What thoughts/emotions/connotations should I aim to accompany my prayer so I'll be more emotionally invested in it?" or "... so my prayers will be better?"
    – Zev Spitz
    Mar 3 at 11:20

The image of a king is not the only one that is used for Hashem. He is also called a father, a husband, etc.; it is really a relationship, not just a job. It may be different from relating to a human being, because we rely on Him in a different way, we have a different kind of way in which to bless Him, and our 'conversation' with Him isn't verbal in the sense that you can hear an answer from Him in a matter of seconds.

Even so, it's the devotion of the heart and the devotion of our actions together that are considered loving Him.

That makes sense of private and spontaneous prayer, but how about praying as an obligation from a liturgy? One thought is that there is also something important in the prayers of the community as a whole, something that is bigger than you but which you are a part of. That is a way of blessing people that He has given in the community, and it's also something that He has given you to bless Him with, according to a clear understanding within Judaism... which is a big thought in itself.


"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way." 1 Sam 12:23

As Samuel considered it a sin to cease praying for the Children of Israel, should we likewise consider it a privilege to pray to G-d for each other? We should not cease to pray. Prayer should not be only 3 times a day, but instead a lifestyle where we constantly talk to Abba. When my daughter was 3 she talked constantly and it was both fun and annoying to listen to her. I don't think Abba is ever annoyed with us... maybe amused but not annoyed. He wants to hear from us. Prayer is a conversation... talking is great, but to have a relationship requires us to be quiet sometimes and wait for Him to speak. Without quiet time there is no prayer... just a bunch of one way talking. Prayer shows we NEED Him in our lives and that we believe in Him. And by listening (and obeying) we show Him our respect. If you are merely reciting a bunch of canned speeches... it's not prayer, it's tradition. Tradition has its place to maintain the continuity of the faith to provide a benchmark and an example for others to follow. It's like feeding Vegimite to your children. It's good for them, but when they are older they need steak. We continue what tradition calls prayer for the sake of the community and for others to learn from and follow (because if you truly listen to those canned speeches there's a lot of heart in them), but true prayer is continually talking to G-d and taking those quiet times to hear from Him.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .