The action of praying is referred to as l’hispalel, to judge oneself. Yet during tefillah we do not seem to be judging ourselves at all. On the contrary – we are completely focused outwards, asking Hashem to take care of our needs. How does judgment pertain to prayer?
“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold; a person is [judged] according to his praises” (Mishlei 27). The litmus test of the purity of silver and gold is how they hold up when they are refined. Pure silver and gold will come out almost equally pure after they have been passed through a furnace.
This very same concept holds true in regards to “what one praises.” The Chida writes (Devash L’pi 25,400) that the three tefillos one recites each day are really a reflection of his soul. If a person fills his day with mitzvos and conducts his affairs with integrity, then his tefillos will be filled with the appropriate intention.
David Hamelech’s guide is, “I keep Hashem in front of me at all times” (Tehillim 16,8). The level of one’s awareness of his Creator throughout the day will determine the degree of his intention when praying. Thus, while praying we erect a reflection of our souls, and in truth we are judging ourselves in the process.
Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org