Since the prayers were instituted by the rabbis of the Talmud, before that time did Jews not pray? Or if they did, how did they pray?
Before the Sages instituted the formal payers we know today, Jews prayed according to the Torah. What does this mean?
For one, when discussing the basis for the rabbinic requirement to pray, the Talmud (Berachot 26a) says that the Sages patterned their prayers after the Torah-mandated sacrifices — morning, afternoon and evening (since the afternoon offering was completed in the evening). In fact, in the absence of the Temple, the prayers are described as being in lieu of the sacrifices. Accordingly, before the formal rabbinic prayers, Jews got close to
Secondly, another source mentioned in the Talmud (Ber. 26a) as a basis for the formal rabbinic prayers is the example of the forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Avraham is described as standing before
Lastly, even though the Torah does not prescribe a daily requirement to pray specifically-worded payers, according to the Rambam there is still a Torah requirement to pray to
One very important point that’s worth making in the context of this discussion is that since individualized, personal prayers were practiced at least since the times of the forefathers, the formalized, rabbinically required prayers were not intended to, and should not, replace personal prayer. Rather, they were instituted in addition to, or parallel to, one’s personal prayers that develop and maintain a highly personal relationship with