The Parent, the CEO and Me
I believe that the efficacy of prayer is in the relationship built by turning to one’s Parent in times of trouble.
One may indeed get what one prayed for, in some circumstances, because perhaps the deprivation served its purpose once it woke you up to prayer. The you post-prayer has a different set of needs than the you pre-prayer.
Similarly, it could be that the communal response to the problem, like getting the community to worry about and pray for a sick person, is the difference between the cost-benefit analysis coming out that it’s “worth it” for G-d to have the person sick, or not worth it.
But prayer has to be about the relationship. “No” is too common of an answer to be content with prayer when viewed as a means of asking for things.
You have a meeting with the CEO of your firm, BMBW. The CEO’s admin team already sent you what they think is an agenda for the meeting that would appeal to the Boss. You being it in hand; all you have to add are your own thoughts.
After all, both you and the CEO want “Better Me Better World” to be a success. The thing is to get on the same page.
You have a meeting with the CEO of your firm, BMBW. The CEO’s admin team already sent you what they think is an agenda for the meeting that would appeal to the Boss. You being it in hand; all you have to add are your own thoughts.After all, both you and the CEO want “Better Me Better World” to be a success. The thing is to get on the same page.(Or, how to teach prayer to people who live in a modern democracy and don’t get the metaphor behind all this “King” talk.)
(This section could have gotten the lengthier title: How to teach prayer to people who live in a modern democracy and don’t get the metaphor behind all this “King” talk.)
The way I see it (and this is obviously going to be colored very mussarly):
We are already in contact with the Divine. The neshamah is still tahor and qadosh, no matter what we may do with the rest of our soul, the parts that do things like free will, personality, physical drives, etc…
The failure of communication, the loss of relationship with G-d, is at a point within me. My conscious mind and my neshamah sitting in different places, the former paying attention to a lower plane of self.
The work is therefore to become whole (sheleimus) and heal the rest of our soul (temimus) unified with that which is already in the right place.
וְדַבֵּק לִבֵּנוּ בְּמִצְותֶיךָ.
וְיַחֵד לְבָבֵנוּ לְאַהֲבָה וּלְיִרְאָה אֶת שְׁמֶךָ.
And make our hearts cling to Your mitzvos
And unify our hearts to love and be overawed* of Your “name” (i.e. presentation in this world).
(* I hate trying to translate “yir’ah“, a concept that has no English equivalent, sitting in territory shared by “awe” and “fear” in the English description of emotion-space.)
Like in the way I used the Parent metaphor, it’s up to me to turn myself to the Parent. Or if looking at the CEO of BMBW, we both want my happiness and a better world, but it’s not possible if I don’t get myself on his page.
So I see prayer as internal work, but because that’s the only step left in relating to the Parent and CEO / King. It can be a “fake it till you make it” type exercise; just keep at the motions until it clicks.
(If anyone is feeling déjà vu, you’re right. All of the thoughts in this post appear here and there elsewhere on this blog. I just wrote these pieces in another conversation and liked how it came out.)