Why Routine Is as Important to Prayer as Concentration https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2020/02/why-routine-is-as-important-to-prayer-as-concentration/

February 19, 2020 | Shalom Carmy
About the author: Shalom Carmy teaches Bible and Jewish philosophy at Yeshiva University and is an affiliated scholar at the university’s Cardozo law school. He is also the editor emeritus of Tradition, a journal of Orthodox thought.

Since the advent of the smartphone, it has become a cliché to say that ours is an age of distraction. While concern about distracted praying may be as old as prayer itself, perhaps the threat is now greater than ever. Shalom Carmy reflects on the place of focus in the Jewish way of communication with God:

Preachers often deplore routinized, perfunctory prayer, but it is equally true that the life of prayer suffers most when it lacks the regularity imposed by obligation. We do not always pray with proper passion, but it is in our power at least to foster and sustain the atmosphere that facilitates heartfelt prayer. That, [itself], is part of maturity.

Prayer is a specifically God-oriented activity, and Jewish prayer is not only a privilege but a duty performed at particular appointed times. Hence many of us tend to assign it to a religious domain that is sequestered from the profane parts of our lives. Yet I would submit that what is true of prayer and the maturity inseparable from it has implications for many of our daily “secular” commitments.

The attentiveness and concentration we learn through the discipline of prayer both form and mirror the attitudes essential to the rest of our lives. Work, study, creativity, fidelity, and compassion in our personal relations are all impoverished when we fail to develop the maturity and focus of prayer. All that we do and experience is immeasurably enriched when the life of prayer sustains our daily world.

Read more on First Things: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2020/03/prayer-distraction-and-daily-life