We use that term all the time. It doesn’t need a definition. We feel we pray and don’t need reminders. But how do we keep it fresh?
I work with someone who is an Orthodox Jew and prays religiously (pun intended) 3 times a day. He closes his office door and with deliberation carves this time out of his day for HaShem. And yet he and I have had some interesting discussions on this topic. On one Succoth when he invited me to join him at the downtown sukkah, he was done with his silent prayer before eating as I slowly finished mine being not as Hebrew proficient. This experience prompted a later discussion which he brought up about how to feel the prayers as we say the words rather than having them become rote. My embarrassing slowness to me gave him pause as HaShem uses each of as catalysts in the journeys of not only ourselves, but of others as well.
Prayers come in so many shapes and sizes, times in the day and times in our lives. Their beauty includes this personal shaping to make them our own.
Yet I find that no matter how much I try to live in that space of more prayer than less, it takes great effort, for too often it seems I’m just putting out the daily fires, or at a minimum, doing so many things that it’s hard to fit regular prayer in. I find my prayer time must be carved out or it doesn’t happen, just as my colleague has been taught. But for me, the carved out times end up being talks with HaShem moreso than prayers for needs. I typically hear from Him rather than ask of Him.
So lately, I am getting from others so many cues that I need to do more prayer in the sense of not just thanking Him and listening, but praying for needs as well. The subject has come up in multiple contexts by different people, which by itself is feeling like Abba is trying to get my attention. But perhaps the most profoundly clear indication that the message is straight from Him occurred earlier this week.
As you know, I have been unable until last week to send these messages to you via email. One of my readers for the past several weeks has been forwarding my previous Shabbat encouragements from over the years to me with her feedback attached. I don’t know why exactly but I thanked her last week for doing so since her actions served as a huge encouragement to me to continue these weekly writings if I am able to do so. I would receive her emails forwarding my previous messages at various times, sometimes days apart and from seemingly random encouragements that I had sent years earlier.
On Sunday of this week, I had become very concerned about my mentally challenged adult daughter and so I paid a surprise visit to her at her apartment. It was a very difficult time and I am concerned about her health. When I came home and checked my emails later, I found that my encouraging reader had at the exact time that I was at my daughter’s apartment forwarded to me one of my Shabbat encouragements that I had sent in July 2016 that discussed very similar issues with my daughter at that time that I was experiencing on this very Sunday. In my reader’s comments to my previous encouragement, she thanked me for the message and asked that we keep both of our daughters in prayer. She went on to discuss the importance of prayer.
There is no way this divinely perfect timing, the sharing of a message about my daughter from July 2016 to be sent to me while I am in her apartment in April 2018, is an accident. As if to say, “Get it now!”, HaShem grabbed my attention where I could feel it the most to drive home the mini drash my reader gave to me on the power of prayer. And to remind me that He is in this with me, with my reader, and with our daughters.
I know we know, but this week I encourage you to make prayer your number one priority. For if your days are framed and filled with it, morning, noon, and night, if prayer becomes the place where you dwell and all the doing and being is within its essence, I truly believe the power of prayer will be something we have not yet even fully experienced. Join yours with that of other prayer warriors and we gain a glimpse of the Divine, experiencing His essence in every breath and cell of our very beings.