I get so many questions from people who want to speak to Hashem but don't or get easily discouraged because they aren't sure that they're doing it the "right" way. Rabbi Arush has published guidelines for personal prayer in his classic book on the subject, In Forest Fields. I've been struck by how many of the people who I speak with and who write to me don't seem to know that Rabbi Arush's guidelines for both the content and order of personal prayer is not something that he meant for us follow mechanically. Rather, he offered an "order" in the hope that we would refer to it as a means of finding our own path of communication with Hashem.
In light of the above I decided to share my own personal outline for personal prayer that I compiled based on the writings of Rabbi Arush. Anyone who is familiar with Rabbi Arush's outline can readily see that my outline does not conform to his and yours doesn't need to either. Please remember that my guide is also not something than should be strictly adhered to. I myself rarely follow it exactly as it written here. Although I may refer to it quickly before praying, I often find myself jumping back and forth on these topics in completely different ways with different wordings and sometimes leaving out certain subjects entirely while adding others. My speech is certainly not continuous. I often experience long pauses. I usually speak quietly and occasionally cry out with more force. I am completely non-grammatical and often speak more in short phrases than full sentences. If I perceive any visual imagery I may speak directly to the person, place or subject or event that I am percieving. Sometimes I speak directly to Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. Spontaneity is the rule of thumb.There are times when I must ignore the following "order" completely and simply speak to Hashem about whatever is weighing heaviest on my heart.
Anyone who is prone to serious depression and who doesn't feel any positive emotion, optimism or sense of well-being by the time they complete the first three sections should substitute sections four and five on Confession and Self-improvement with a section on Declaring a New Beginning. I would suggest that the person read what Rabbi Arush wrote about declaring a new beginning in The Garden of Wisdom (it starts on p. 153). Learning about renewal and declaring a new beginning is a powerful antidote for hopelessness and depression. Some people need personalized spiritual coaching to know when and if they should be making this substitution. Almost all of us could use at least one emuna coaching session at some point to be sure we're on the right track. To see the full outline click here...
For more good reading:
By Rabbi Lazer Brody - National Courage
By Rivka Levy - The Definition of Good