Marking Jewish Themes with Devotion
Sabbaths, Feasts, and More
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippian 4:6-7).
“To pray is to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live.” ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
Jewish philosopher and poet, Abraham Joshua Heschel believed unequivocally that prayer was foundational to man’s existence. He described it as the brick and mortar of the human heart and his personal time spent in prayer as the most rewarding part of the day. He identified prayer as the queen of religion—not just for the Jewish people, but for all peoples, all nations. To him, the person who has never exercised prayer has not risen to her full potential. Heschel believed that mankind should not cast away the treasured opportunity to address God in dialogue.
I am challenged by Heschel’s thoughts on prayer. Over the past fifty years, I have spent hours in prayer, attended myriads of seminars, read dozens of books, and am still learning about it. Sometimes I feel like a novice. And I must shockingly admit after all this emphasis on praying that sometimes it is my last consideration when I hit a wall in life. It’s funny how I endeavor to navigate the stormy waters alone. I know the power of prayer first hand, but I might struggle through a day and suddenly ask myself, “Why didn’t I stop and pray for a breakthrough?”
Contemplating prayer, I am reminded about a childhood happening with my now grown-up daughter. As a little girl, she gave me the sweetest little gifts — a crayon drawing, a cut-out heart made of red construction paper, or a dandelion picked from the backyard. In the middle of her day, she would run to me with an expected treasure. Her unconditional and spontaneous love melted my heart. It said I care about you, Mama. I am still connected to you. It kept me going as a young mother.
That is what prayer is to God our Father. To have the ability and privilege to dialogue with God routinely or spontaneously is a gift to Him. He treasures it as I cherish my daughter’s gifts. And prayer is a solution for me as I seek answers and solutions to life! Thank God for “…the divine margin in all attainments.” Prayer opens the door to God’s unseen hand in everything that concerns me. The need for prayer is mutual — I to be strengthened, comforted, or guided and my heavenly Father needs to know I love him. The profound aspect of prayer is found in its simple yet routine expression.
For more study…
Psalm 107:28-30, Matthew 7:7, James 5:14-16
Work it out in daily life…
Make connecting with God your daily aim. Make it as routine and needful as your first cup of coffee. Would you leave the house without it? Keep a journal of prayers and answers with dates. It will build your faith. Become the person who “prays without ceasing…” or is in constant communication with your heavenly Father. He is waiting moment by moment to receive your gift of love through expression. Also become aware of hearing God’s response to your prayers. Waiting in silence can bring clarity to your life.
©Bonnie Saul Wilks