The Rebbe said, “I pray that I may be able to pray…”
Surely we can all learn from this Rebbe. We should always pray to be able to pray.
There are a number of ways to achieve it. In the Mishnah B’rachot we are told that the pious men of old meditated for an hour before their prayers. They sat quietly and tuned in. Their actual prayers waited until they were ready for them.
The same source tells us that people whose prayer came fluently from their mouths knew that they had prayed successfully. Their inner compass told them that they were in the right direction.
These and other items of advice from the sages are far more important than rushing into the synagogue, finding the place and pretending to participate in the service.
We tend to ask the wrong question when we decide what shule to attend on the High Holydays. We ask, “When will the service end?”, when we should be asking, “When will the prayers (i.e. our own personal praying) begin?”
The answer cannot possibly be, “The moment we enter the building”. It takes time for us to pray to be able to pray…