By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 8, 2010
The twelve words of Modeh Ani are the first prayer uttered in the morning. They thank God for restoring our life and soul to us at the dawn of a new day. The words of Modeh Ani do not contain any name of God, which means that we can say Modeh Ani i immediately on opening our eyes, without needing to first get up and wash our hands.
The prayer is apparently quite recent. Its first recorded mention is in a late 16th-century commentary on the siddur by the Safed kabbalist, Rabbi Ibn Makhir. But saying it daily has been adopted almost universally.