Anna-Michelle emailed me the following question:
“I’m a Jew by choice for 3 years now, ever since my husband and I married. Before him, I lived Catholic, raised on NKJV bible. I’m in need of Jewish resources, specially a prayer book. Can you recommend the perfect prayer book for me?”
My reply to her: “No, I can’t, because there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to prayer.” Some people like to use a bible, some a prayer book, some like to go strictly on feel. Guess what—every single method is equally good and acceptable!
Personally, I use Gates of Prayer. This is also called The New Union Prayer Book and it’s the standard text in Reform temples across America. I received my G.O.P book when I was only 10-years-old and have been using it ever since. At that time, each child in my Hebrew school was given a copy with their name inscribed on the back. This was probably the best Jewish gift I ever received, because long after I forgot every school lesson I learned, I still have the book.
G.O.P has a good mix of weekday, Sabbath, and festival prayers, along with some songs. There is both English and Hebrew text which I find very helpful and all of the important liturgy is included. Some folks do feel it’s outdated, but I still use and love it, probably because it’s what I learned on.
My late Father, on the other hand, never used a book, preferring a combination Torah/Talmud program for the computer. It was very comprehensive, with the ability to add notes for each section. I really prefer to hold something in my hands, but for those who prefer an online method, this could be excellent.
That brings us to the “go on feel” folks. I’ve met so many people, of all different faiths, that say Scripture doesn’t seem relevant. For them, I think just listening to their own heart and expressing their cares/concerns in their own way would be best. Remember: There is no such thing as an incorrect prayer! The Lord has the ability to hear all of them and knows our hearts, anyway. Don’t let a lack of information/fear hold you back.
Do you use a prayer book? If so, which one?