We have established my love for alliteration, so there it is.
And Ben also informed me that while it is not forbidden, many people do not wrap Tefillin during Pesach, so there’s that. I am a grown man still learning… and I love it!
Prayers, in their simplicity, are a way for us to connect with Hashem… for honoring him and all that he has given us… and yes, our time for asking for things.
We need to express humility. We need to express gratitude. And before we pray, we need to prepare.
Before I pray every morning, I read the Six Constant Mitzvot:
1) Believe there is a G-d and know that he loves you
2) Do not believe in any other G-d
3) Know that G-d is One… Echad… Unity… Undivided
4) Love G-d
5) Fear G-d (or be in Awe of G-d)
6) Do not go after the desires of your eyes and your heart
Then I read Rabbi Shalom Denbo’s Seven Steps To Trusting Hashem and Having Faith/Emunah
1) Hashem Loves Me
2) Hashem Is Totally Aware Of Me & Knows Everything I Want
3) Hashem Has The Power To Give Me Everything I Want
4) I Do Not Have The Power
5) Hashem Has Given Me So Much Already (Appreciation)
6) I Do Not Have To Deserve It
7) Hashem Knows What’s Best
Then I have a list of at least eight things I am grateful for and truly appreciate… So it’s my 6-7-8… like a dance count off…
I am warmed up… I am ready… And now… I pray.
Some days it seems rote and rehearsed… other days it is moving and induces a huge swing of emotions. But it always seems that my quest for spirituality will be never-ending, and I suppose that is how it should be. That’s a good thing. We keep going until we can go no further. And then maybe we keep pushing again…
We yearn to learn and study, and realize that it is the questions that keep the dialogue and conversation going… The answers can sometimes shut things down…
I got that idea from Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld and it’s a good one… Questions lead to other questions and a lifelong quest to expand and explore and keep growing.
Our last holiday, Passover, is perhaps the perfect example of this, as questions form a centerpiece of the Seder.
Unanswered questions… Hmmm… That would explain the seeming irony of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” playing in the background as I read Rabbi Irwin Katsof’s small, night table book How To Get Your Prayers Answered.
Having faith… Emunah… means trusting in Hashem and being okay with the unknown, because what we DO know… is that Hashem knows what is best.
I love what Shlomo says are the three answers from Hashem to a prayer:
2) Not yet
3) I have something better
But is there really a way to pray where your prayers actually get answered? Well… I just started reading this book, so let us explore this idea together.
In this great, literally tiny book, prayer is defined by the Zohar:
“Human prayer is the service of the spirit. Although people do not realize it, it involves the highest mysteries. For prayer splits through the atmosphere, through all firmaments, opens all doors and ascends on high.”
According to Rabbi Katsof there are five steps in How To Get Your Prayers Answered and next week we will cover more.
Step One: Pray with the expectation of a positive result.
Step One is simple… and when I say simple, know that these are deep, complex thoughts and ideas… Know that the simplest things in this world are perhaps the most difficult to fully achieve… True love… faith… connection.
So what is simple in statement may not be so simple in deed, but faith and Emunah go a long way to helping us fulfill our destiny and fully believe that our prayers will be answered.
Stay positive… pray… connect… and let us believe… and all change the world for the better!