A strong cup of coffee replete with milk and sugar can rejuvenate a person from his morning drowsiness, invigorating him and enabling him to pray much more energetically and with much more concentration. Seemingly there is no greater preparation for prayer, than to drink coffee with milk and sugar beforehand.
While this might be very true, it is worth bearing the following thought in mind. One purpose of tefillah is to ask Hashem for strength and other necessary essentials that we require to get through the day. In light of this, at times it may be better to skip the coffee and come to pray in a weakened state (heard from Rav Shlomo Brevda).
David Hamelech describes the mindset a Jew is meant to have when he prays: “The prayer of a poor person who wraps himself up in his tribulations …” (Tehillim 102,1). Chazal explain that there is no place for haughtiness when approaching Hashem in prayer (Berachos 10b). Approaching prayer without artificial stimulants heightens our awareness of complete dependence on Hashem.
Before relying on any of the leniencies regarding eating before praying, one should consider that if the food will allow him to pray with proper concentration then he will be rewarded for his actions. On the other hand, if he doesn’t need it, then eating or drinking may prevent his prayers from finding favor in Hashem’s eyes. This calls for an honest evaluation of one’s personal situation.
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org