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In this related question, it is discussed why we daven in the first place. The question still remains: I could very well ask for what I want, even if it's detrimental to me. For that matter, I could even daven that I be successful in an aveirah. Why should we daven for such things? Why don't we just go along with our day, trying to follow the Torah as best as we can, and trust that Hashem will do what is best for us? From that perspective, wouldn't asking Him for something be a failure in this self-test of emunah?

  • The source you mention, as quoted in that answer's link, doesn't seem to be saying to pray for success in an aveirah. He says one who will sin shouldn't totally forget about God, but should mention God and should try to find some way of viewing the act as doing something for God: אפילו אין באותה עבירה שום נדנוד מצווה, לא מפני כן ישכח את השם עושהו ויזכירנו בפיו, ויהרהר בעבירה ההיא איזה עניין שיהיה לשם שמים ואפילו בדרך רחוקה. The goal there is to remain cognizant of and in servitude to God and not have totally evil intentions, not to make the aveirah more successful through prayer. – Jay Apr 23 '17 at 18:20
  • It is a mitzha to pray halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Mitzvah_to_Daven and it does effect reality, so the emuna is that Hashem wants you to pray and to give you these "best " things through (becouse of) your prayer, – hazoriz Apr 23 '17 at 18:31
  • Closely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30262 – msh210 Apr 23 '17 at 18:32
  • See chabad.org/920161 – hazoriz Apr 23 '17 at 18:34
  • If you want to show more trust do not stop davaning, but by for example stop taking gifts sefaria.org/… – hazoriz Apr 23 '17 at 21:43
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Sometimes prayer is the prerequisite to us receiving things. In chapter 2, verse 5 of Breishit it says the following: ה וְכֹל | שִׂיחַ הַשָּׂדֶה טֶרֶם יִהְיֶה בָאָרֶץ וְכָל עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה טֶרֶם יִצְמָח כִּי לֹא הִמְטִיר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים עַל הָאָרֶץ וְאָדָם אַיִן לַעֲבֹד אֶת הָאֲדָמָה:

G-d did not bring rain until Adam prayed for it. Not because He didn't plan on there being grass on Earth - He created grass already! Rather because he wanted to give Adam an opportunity to connect to his Creator and pray for it before having it. The grass was merely 'waiting' under the Earth's surface for Adam to pray, in order for rain to fall and be able to protrude the Earth. This is according to rashi on the verse.

I've heard the analogy given of a faucet. The water may be in the pipes but until we turn the faucet on the water will not fall. So too, for us to get what is in our pipelines we may need to pray for it. Turning on the faucet in the analogy maps to praying.

  • But why? If HaShem knows what's in our best interest, why doesn't He just give it to us, and when we no longer deserve it, He stops giving? – DonielF Apr 24 '17 at 1:47
  • How would we connect to HaShem without tefillah? How would we come to tefillah if it were not totally necessary? – loveToCode Apr 24 '17 at 2:37
  • That's part of the question. Why is it necessary? Why do we need to connect with Him? Let us listen to His Torah and do mitzvos and learn Torah, and HaShem will take care of the rest. – DonielF Apr 24 '17 at 3:00
  • According to some we don't need to :); according to the Ramba"m only tefilla in response to a disaster is part of the d'oraisa requirement of tefillah. Still, Chazal structured tefilla for our benefit. Mesilas Yeshirim describes our purpose in world to be to gain pleasure from HaShem, how can we achieve that without connecting to Him? Taken from chapter one, mesilas yesharim - "...man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in G-d and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found. ..." – loveToCode Apr 24 '17 at 3:42
  • We could connect to Him through learning. And that still doesn't explain why Chazal instituted three minyanim a day. – DonielF Apr 24 '17 at 4:36
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There is a mistaken assumption -- that the point of davening is to get things. However, the gemara describes prayer as "avodah shebaleiv -- service which is in the heart" (Ta'anis 2a). We pray in order to serve G-d, not in order to get Him to serve us!

So, why do we pray, and in particular, why is so much of prayer a list of requests, if we aren't praying in order to get things?

I can ask the same of many of the conversations I have with my parents. Why discuss my need for a raise with my dad, or parenting worries with my mother? Because part of having a relationship is leaning on others for emotional support. Even when I have little to know expectation of getting any other help from them.

The point of prayer is to turn to one's Parent in times of trouble. Full stop.

If this indeed changes the one who prays to the extent that G-d then decides this new person no longer requires the challenge in question, great. If could be that the primary purpose of the problem was to motivate this act of turning to Him. As our sages describe Sarah's, Rivqa's and Rachel's infertility being caused by "Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous." (Yevamos 64a) Or perhaps just changing the mix of things that need addressing in one's life, one can trade in this challenge for another, hopefully smaller, one. (See Avrohom Yitzchok's answer.)

But if not, the prayer was still successful as long as it remains a practice in staying connected to the Creator and therefore also to what He Created me for.

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I heard that the effect of davenning is to change myself so that I am no longer the same person for whom the (present and future) situation has been arranged. Since I have changed, the original arrangements may no longer be suitable for me.

This source discusses the question of how it is possible to change the mind of G-d and responds

התשובה המקובלת היא שהתפילה איננה משנה את רצון הבורא אלא את האדם המתפלל

The accepted answer is that prayer does not change the will of G-d but rather changes the one who prays.

  • Sources for your first claim? – DonielF Apr 23 '17 at 16:48
  • Also, how can robbing a bank ever be good for me? Why would doing an aveirah be good for anyone? – DonielF Apr 23 '17 at 16:48
  • @DonielF as far as davening to rob a bank etc. Why would we think that such a prayer is endorsed as good just because we could? I understand that your question is why pray if it isn't needed. But to ask why could someone pray to succeed at a sin is not a question right? People can do a lot of silly things. – David Kenner Apr 23 '17 at 18:05
  • @DavidKenner But again, why ask for things that are clearly not in your best interests? That's exactly my question. We shouldn't ask for anything and trust that HaShem has our best interests in mind. – DonielF Apr 23 '17 at 18:06

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