How is one supposed to pray for something he needs?

Is he/she supposed to request it from God once or repeat the request over and over, or make arguments why he deserves it or something else?

It says for example that Isaac and Rebeca prayed years for a son. Did they just sit in a corner and repeat the request over and over again?

(update: looking more for a source from books that instructs on how to do this rather than the experiences of an individual in tanach)

  • This is pretty much the subject of R. Shimshon Dovid Pincus' entire sefer, Shaarei Tefillah (highly recommended even though it's rather unusual) Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 5:50
  • But his answer to the last question is yes, often times the appropriate way to pray is merely to repeat the same request over and over Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 5:51
  • @Matt ok thanks matt. is the book online?
    – ray
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 18:23
  • @Matt do you mean shaarim b'tefillah? Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 19:06
  • @YEZ yeah sorry that was a typo. And no it's not online, but it is on otzar hachachma Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 21:59

6 Answers 6


Rav Shafier (of The Shmuz) says that the best way to pray for something specific is to realize that G-d is in control of everything, and human beings are not.

When a person realizes how incredibly helpless he or she is without G-d , he or she will cry out to G-d for assistance, in very simple terms, the way that a young child cries out to parents to have his or her needs met.

You can listen to the shiur by clicking the link below, and pressing play on the on-screen audio player: no sign up or download required.

Click here for Shumuz #236 by Rav Ben Tzion Shafier

  • 1
    I listened to the shiur again, and edited my answer to include a summary.
    – Jake
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 10:04
  • 1
    Great, +1! That was really nice of you :)
    – MTL
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 14:55
  • thank you jake. according to this answer, how do you think rivka and issac prayed for a son for 10+ years. did they just keep on talking like a child repeating the same words?
    – ray
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 18:48
  • @ray I don't know, but I also know that I'm not rivka or yitzchak, and I never will be.
    – Jake
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 13:17
  • very good shiur. said alot about the importance of prayer and that it helps, but i did not find that it addresses the point of how to pray. ok, it says make a request, but when that is done, then what? do you keep repeating the same request over and over, or do you try to find new types of arguments?
    – ray
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 6:06

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov has many specific teachings on prayer. He taught that one should speak to Hashem in one's own words for at least an hour each day, thanking and praising Him, doing teshuvah, asking to come close to Him, and asking for any material or spiritual things we need. Though the main emphasis in much of his writings is on praying about spiritual matters, Rebbe Nachman also taught that one should pray for any physical thing one needs, even something as insignificant as a missing button on one's coat. Here is one paragraph partially summarizing his approach:

"It has already been explained how important it is to seclude yourself and pray, and how powerful a method this is. It is the path by which we can come close to God. Everybody should set aside fixed periods every day and express himself before God in his own native language. It is much easier to say what you need to say when you are using your own language. You should set forth whatever is in your heart. Use every kind of appeal and argument. Use words that will endear you to God and win His favor. Plead with Him to draw you closer. Every individual knows his own personal pain and sorrow and the distance that separates him from God. It is impossible to convey the true greatness of this method. It is superior to all others. It is the way of serving God, and through following it everyone can attain the ultimate good in this world and in the World to Come. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished by prayer and entreaty. The greatest of the Tzaddikim achieved what they did only through this practice. Think about it carefully and you will see the greatness of this path. Set aside one hour every day for this, the rest of the day be happy -- and then you will be truly blessed." (Likutei Eitzot, Hitbodedut).

More can be found here: http://www.azamra.org/Advice/meditation.html and here: http://www.azamra.org/Advice/prayer.html and here: www.azamra.org/Essential/hisbodedus.htm

Rabbi Shalom Arush, a Breslover Rosh Yeshivah in Israel, has two additional teachings regarding praying for a particular thing. If one is in need of something very important, he teaches that one should pray for six hours straight for that thing, or for an hour a day for that thing for a whole month. He reports many miraculous salvations resulting from this practice, as described in his books and articles.

  • is this a chidush of breslov or are there sources from chazal?
    – ray
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 19:54
  • Rav Arush cite some sources in his book In Forest Fields. The general idea of praying in one's own words obviously occurs in Torah and Tanakh, Rambam says this was the original mode of prayer, and there are examples of Tannaim in the Gemara praying spontaneously in their own words. Rebbe Nachman claims that the great tzaddikim throughout history achieved their spiritual levels through similar practices. That said, some aspects of the Breslov approach are probably new, or at least written down for the first time in Rebbe Nachaman's and Reb Noson's teachings.
    – Kordovero
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 22:32

Chazal tell us that Moshe Rabbenu davened to go into Eretz Yisroel 515 times.

  • 1
    it also says isaac and rivka prayed years for a son, but what happened at those sessions.
    – ray
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 22:13
  • @ray - He is answering part of your question, whether to request once or many times.
    – user4523
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 22:50
  • Do you know where Chazal say that? If so, editing it into your answer would make it stronger. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 1:56
  • The question remains: Did Moshe Rebeinu (alav hashalom) repeat the same text as a mantra or did he change his wording each time? Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 1:33
  • I answered the question regarding the request. Why do you think that changing the text / wording would change anything.
    – R. Mo
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 13:37

Chafetz Chaim - Likutei Amarim ch.11

"In summation, all the many calamities that come on us and that we are not saved from them is because we are not screaming and outpouring in prayer over them. If we would pray and would pour out before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, certainly our prayers and supplications would not return empty. And it's not enough for a person to pray the shemonei esrei three times a day, rather a few times per day, a person needs to pour out prayers and supplications in solitude, in his house, from the depths of his heart. Because the three prayers (shemonei esrei) are already fixed in his mouth and he doesn't take them to heart so much. But if a person would contemplate in solitude and make a cheshbon hanefesh on his personal situation, his great poverty and his many toils, and for all this to live on crusty bread and water, then he will pour out his heart like water in front of Hashem, yisborach, and the prayer will go out with deep kavana and with a broken heart and a lowly spirit. A prayer like this will certainly not return empty. And then when his soul is bitter on him, on his situation and his weak standing, and he drops supplications before HaKadosh Baruch Hu, he should also remember the great pain of Hashem yisborach, because he also, so to speak, does not have rest. In all our suffering He suffers..."

comes down to the verse "pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord" - Lamentations 2:19

there is no "technique" for this for that would miss the point


My prayers have been answered many times. I think of Rabbi Nachman and his advise, I pray in silence or in tears, secluded in my car, or in my room, or walking in the park. I thank hashem for his kindness, for his blessings, and I accept that the solution is in his hands. I am machmir of mitzvot, especially brachot and tzedakah, and await the best, for it is sure to come.

  • 1
    Thank you for the post, but I don't think it directly answers the question.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 1:57

I'm going with the Avraham praying for Sdom route. Each time he was rejected he tried a different approach. Both mathematically and as far as 'reasoning' with Hashem 'chalila licha etc'. I would also guess that Chana's promise to give her first child over to Hashem was the first time she tried that.

  • avraham was praying but also having a two way conversation. what are we supposed to do? think up as many arguments as we can?
    – ray
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 22:16
  • I would think so. Now that i think of it thats what Choni hamaagal did, that's what rabi Akiva did when he started saying Avinu Malkeinu. Think of a good reason why you think Hashem should do something and tell it to Him.
    – user6591
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 3:37
  • 1
    OP specified he wants sources addressing this explicitly; not stories from Tanakh.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 22:28
  • 2
    @user6591 No need to get mean. Maybe he just didn’t notice. Be that as it may, maybe you could improve your answer to reflect the new version of the question?
    – DonielF
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 16:16
  • 1
    This post had non-positive score at the time the question was edited, so changes to the question can invalidate it such that it should be deleted. You should consider updating your post to match the question or just deleting it (and maybe adding some of its content as a comment above).
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:01

You must log in to answer this question.

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