I Just Called to Say I Love You: Why Orthodox Jews Pray Every Day

One afternoon, about six years ago, when I called my husband at work, his secretary informed me that he hadn’t arrived that day. My heart pounded as my fingers instinctively dialed the numbers to his cell phone. When it went straight to voicemail, I was certain my worst nightmare had come true.

An hour, and many morbid thoughts later, my husband called me like nothing was wrong. Apparently he’d slipped into the office without his secretary seeing him and had been in a meeting all morning.

The worrying I did that day was some of the most justified worrying I have ever done. Much of the rest of it has bordered on insane. (A couple months ago I was convinced that my husband had died three times in a single day – three times before 11:15AM to be exact.)

My mother’s a worrier too. It’s why she calls at least once a day, every day. We don’t always have the most in depth conversation, but she checks in with my two sisters and me each day to find out a) How are you? b) How’s [insert son-in-law’s name]? c) How are the kids? She checks in like this before Shabbos and after Shabbos. Even when she travels abroad, she finds a phone nearly everyday just to get in those three basic questions.

Despite the fact that I’ve been out of her house for over a decade, my mother and I remain very close – almost like I never left, actually – and I believe a large part of this is due to the fact that we’re constantly speaking. Not every conversation is the most meaningful, but our regular talks ensure that we are always up to date with the goings-on in each other’s lives.

So when my 5 year old daughter recently asked why we have to daven (pray) every single day, I knew exactly what to tell her. “Can you imagine going a day without speaking to Mommy?” I asked. “We talk to Hashem all the time so we can be as close as you and I are.”

The most basic goal of Judaism is to establish a connection with the Almighty. One of the ways we achieve this closeness is by regularly “being in touch.” And just like with my mother’s and my conversations, not every single tefilah (prayer) is an earth-shattering experience. Sometimes prayer can even feel a bit humdrum.

But checking in regularly keeps God on our minds, and keeps the lines of communication open. So during those times when we really need help from Above, making the “call” comes easily and effortlessly. (And it never goes to voicemail.)

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  • Avatar photo Jan says on February 10, 2011

    very nice article; and a very good way to promote prayer. excellent discussion to have with a young child; it helps me to respond to my grandchildren. my own mother died when i was quite young, but my grandson, who i raised, and my disabled sister, are in touch with me every single day, sometimes several times a day and when i don’t hear from them, i worry. funny…thank you for this article.

  • Avatar photo Melanie says on February 10, 2011

    Wow! What a beautiful and succinct way to explain davening. Makes me want to start praying again everyday (it’s hard when you’re raising a couple children, even one, to be honest). Your blog is fantastic. Keep ’em coming!!

    • Avatar photo Allison says on February 10, 2011

      It is definitely hard to formally pray every day while raising small children which is one of the reasons why women are exempt from formal prayer. What *is* doable and what I try to do every night before I go to bed (after I say shema) and once a week when I light Shabbos candles is to do “hisbodidus” which is free style davening.

      No set lines or limits, just close your eyes, move your lips and pour out your heart. Those precious children of yours will surely benefit if their mama can take a quick moment every day to daven for their health, their happiness, and all the other things that are in a mother’s heart.

  • Avatar photo Manuel Blanco, Son of Liebowitz says on April 1, 2011

    Great article. Thank you for sharing. I hope that all who believe in G-d pray at least once a day and not only when they are in trouble. The Vets who come home from war say “There are no Athiests in a fox hole.” I am going to share the article with my family. AWESOME STUFF!

  • Avatar photo juifenasie says on July 18, 2011

    Wonderful advice. I sometimes get lazy and forgetful about prayer (I’m a Ba’al Teshuvah) because living in Asia and rarely have any contact with Jews. Thank you for writing this.


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