Thank You for Listening
Rabbi Moshe of Terani (“Mabit”), in his monumental work Beit Elokim, raises a fundamental question about the structure of prayer.
The three basics parts of prayer are praise, requests and thanksgiving (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer 1:2). Whenever one approaches
Rabbi Chanina said: In the first three blessings one is likened to a servant who offers praise before his master. In the middle blessings he is like a servant requesting an allotment from his master. In the last three blessings he is like a servant who has received his allotment from his master (i.e., expressing thanks and gratitude and then departing) (Berachot 34a).
In the above three levels, the third one seems to raise a question. Surely the worshiper has not yet received his request, having made it only moments before. How then can he be compared to a servant who has already
received his allotment from his master? What exactly is he thanking
Rather, we must say that the one who prays must walk away as if his request had already been granted. Yet this too needs clarification since what if the person never receives what he asked for? Would his words of thanks have been uttered in vein?
The answer is that when one prays, he is meant to display hope that his request will be granted, but if it is not, he must accept this as well, without regret. He should be grateful for having had the opportunity to approach
Prayer is not a guaranteed method of “getting what you want”, since many times we don’t get what we want. Rather, prayer is about approaching