Talking With G‑d
By Naftali Silberberg
Generally, we use our verbal skills to communicate our needs to others, or to respond to others' needs. There is usually a utilitarian goal in mind – a piece of information we wish to hear, or a request we would like to convey.
But these conversations, as important as they may be, do not do justice to the true power of speech. Speaking serves another, much more potent purpose when the conversation itself, and the connection it creates between people, is the objective. Friends will pick up a phone and call each other simply to keep in touch. The topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself Children call their parents, sometimes for a purpose (financial requests are high on the list of “purposes”) – but usually the point of the conversation is just to touch base. A couple newly in love will spend endless hours talking about nothing, anything, and everything. With the advent of Instant Messaging, these conversations often continue through the workday as well (much to the consternation of many an employer). And just as the chat seems to be coming to an end, one of the parties will invariably find yet another “pressing” topic to discuss. Neither wishes to break the bond created by the conversation; neither wants to say “good bye.”
Here we have a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts: the topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself.
The above also applies to our daily “conversations” with G‑d – a.k.a. “prayer”. Prayer comes naturally when a person, G‑d forbid, experiences hardships. But passionate prayer when all is (relatively) well is, in a certain sense, a far more meaningful experience. Because our conversations with G‑d serve a dual purpose: they are an opportunity to beseech our Provider for health, prosperity and nachas from our children; but more importantly, they are also moments when we connect with our beloved Father in Heaven. Indeed, to a certain extent, the content of our prayers is less significant than the experience itself–an opportunity to connect with G‑d.
You have His attention; speak as long as you wish! The great sage Rabbi Yochanan summed it up with these words: “If only a person could pray all day long!”
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A Jew prays three times a day, whether s/he is in special need of something or not at the moment. These are from our camping trip last summer.
Prayer in the Forest
Talking With G‑d