Louis Finkelstein used to say, “When I pray, I speak to God; when I study, God speaks to me.”
We hear from God through our participation in liturgical prayer, and also through the study of religious texts.
That is not to say that human beings cannot ask God specific questions and hope for equally specific answers. Still, our all-knowing God rarely deigns to share the outcome of the World Series with the faithful in advance!
What seems more practical is to look to God to answer our prayers by strengthening our faith, granting us insight, and helping us find the resolve and courage to live lives infused with the finest human values.
There will never be anything based on praying for guidance or patience, for wisdom or for strength.
Abraham Joshua Heschel taught that prayer helps us to engage in what he called “radical amazement.” To reach out to the mysteries of life and, in so doing, to rediscover God in those mysteries.
In the end, t’fillah functions on the personal level as an affirmation of the private relationship of the pray-er with God. On the national level, it serves as a daily reminder of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.
Through our prayers we continually assert the reality of both aspects of any individual’s relationship with God, the personal and the communal. We affirm and confirm the centrality of that multivalent relationship in our spiritual and ritual lives.
Adapted with permission from The Observant Life.