Adding Personal Requests to Daily Prayers

I understand there are places in the Amidah where one can insert personal prayers – apart from the standard prayers it already includes. How do I do this?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It’s definitely proper to add some of your own requests during your daily prayers. Although of course we can and should pray silently to God throughout our day – that He help us get through every part of our day, this is especially effective during organized prayers.

The proper time to add our own requests is during the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, or the Amidah. The Amidah consists of 19 blessings. In the first three we praise God, in the next thirteen we ask requests, and in the final three we offer thanks. The thirteen middle blessings cover most of our typical needs – such as for wisdom, forgiveness, health, and livelihood.

If a person has a need which relates to one of the middle blessings, he should add a request in the relevant blessing. It may be added in any part of the blessing so long as it’s after the blessing’s first complete phrase and before the “baruch attah Hashem...,” (“blessed are You, Hashem”) at the close. Note that typical prayer-books include a small prayer to add for someone who is seriously ill in the blessing on healing.

If a person has a need or not related to one of the thirteen blessings, or if he has a very minor need – such as asking that nothing go wrong with his health or livelihood for the future, there are two choices where he may add his request – either during the final of the 13 middle blessings, which is a generic one asking that God heed all our prayers, or at the very end of Shemoneh Esrei – right before the final “yi’hi’yu l’ratzon” said right before taking three steps back. For the first choice, a typical place to add additional prayers is one line before the conclusion of the 13th blessing, right before “ki atta sho’mai’ah…”

If a person is praying in a synagogue, it’s generally better to add lesser requests at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (the second choice above) rather than in the 13th blessing. The reason is so that he will be able to respond to any of the major responsive prayers if services reach them, such as to the key lines of Kaddish and Kedusha.

As always, it’s best if your additional prayers could be in Hebrew. But if it’s easier in your own language, then that is fine, especially if you are praying in synagogue, together with a minyan.

(Sources: Shulchan Aruch 119:1, Mishna Berurah 119:1, 122:8, Shevet HaLevi VIII 21.)

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