While walking to Tiberias, Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Aba are approached by a Jew who has come to seek Rabbi Shimon's wisdom on the subject of prayer. As the great rabbi discourses on the threefold nature of prayer, the man asks why the prayers of the patriarchs, composed before the Temple existed, are still considered most important. He is told that these prayers are designed to unite Zeir Anpin [the upper world] with his fate, the Nukva [our lower world]. After this, all else is superfluous.
Prayer is often misunderstood as an offering of thanks and praise to our Creator. Kabbalistically, an omnipotent Force of Creation has no need for thanks or praise. It is because of this misunderstanding that many prayers go unanswered. In truth, prayer creates a connection between the lower and upper worlds. Once the connection is established, the person 'praying' can draw from a wellspring of spiritual energy to remove unwanted traits and negative attributes from his own nature. It is our own negative qualities that prohibit us from attaining permanent fulfillment. By strengthening our connection to the upper worlds, reading this section endows our prayers with greater power.