We find in the Zohar that the Infinite Being does not have any representations whatsoever, even through the simplest point. The question then immediately arises, how can we call Him by so many names, and speak of Him with so many descriptions? How then can we make use of so many representations in praying to G‑d?
The Zohar also provides us with an answer and says that "He is called loving and merciful in order that He might be known." When we want G‑d to have mercy on us, then (to the extent that we can express it) He constricts His essence in the word "Merciful", in the lights and vessels of the letters that make up this word… He is called loving and merciful in order that He might be known…
The men of the Great Assembly knew the transmission of G‑dly life-force that is necessary at all times, evening, morning and noon. They therefore ordained [an order of worship, containing] all the words and letters necessary [to transmit this Life Force]. G‑d had granted them the wisdom to do this…
Everything in the worship service is calculated according to this necessity with great accuracy. Thus, in the Standing Prayer, we call G‑d, "The great, the mighty, and the fearsome". Our sages comment, "If Moses had not used these words, and the men of the Great Assembly had not ordained them, [we would not be able to presume to say them]. [From both Moses and the Great Assembly, we see that] these [words and] letters are necessary in order to bring a vital element of life-force to the universes.
When a person makes up his own prayers and does not know the way of Truth, his word combinations cannot accomplish this. For who knows if the transmission of life-force to the universes can take place through the words he uses?
[Note: Nevertheless, in addition to formal service, private prayer is extremely important.] How does the transmission of life-force depend on our speech and prayer?
One question still remains: How does the transmission of life-force depend on our speech and prayer? It is written, "From my flesh, I shall see G‑d." (Job 19:26) [By understanding the human body, we can also understand G‑d's ways.]
Man is filled with life force and breath, spread inside him. When he wishes to speak, he must constrict this breath through his larynx, and modulate it with his mouth, lips, tongue and teeth. He can then express it as he desires, and only then can his speech, voice and wisdom be detected. [He can communicate] because his life force, wisdom and voice are constricted in his speech.
When a righteous person stands in prayer, he certainly connectes and binds his thought and life-force to the Infinite Essence, which is a simple formless Unity. When he begins to speak, he transmits the Creator's Life Force into his words and speech. As these leave his lips, they are very strongly bound to his breath and life force, constructed into the sounds that he expresses.
Then (to the extent that we can express it), the Infinite Essence is bound to this person's breath and life-force and is modulated and constricted in his expression of words.
[From Magid Devarav Le Yaakov 269, The Chasidic Masters/Moznaim Press]
To return to a previous related article on the nature of prayer, The Thirteenth Gate, click here