Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 8 March 2014 / 6 Adar II 5774

Prayer Fundamentals - Part 6

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

I believe with complete faith that G-d rewards those who place their trust in Him alone, as it is written: “The one who places his trust in G-d will be surrounded with kindness.” (Psalms 32:10)

On the surface one may ask, “What is so special about our prayers?” After all, it all seems to be about us. We approach G-d with a long list of requests. Give me this and give me that. Is prayer only about taking? What about giving?

The Power of Emunah (Faith)

On a deeper level, we can see prayer in a different light. By praying we testify to our faith in G-d as our sole Provider. In this light we can understand what prayer is really all about. Through our belief and trust in G-d’s love and kindness we give Him what He truly desires from us.

“I am my Beloved’s and His longing is upon me.” (Song of Songs)

This verse puts into words the beautiful relationship between G-d and the Jewish People. According to its simple understanding, “I am my Beloved’s” expresses the idea that we belong to G-d; and the phrase “His longing is upon me,” tells us that G-d’s desire is only for us.

However, homiletically, we can explain the phrase “His longing is upon us” to mean that G-d wants us to fulfill something that He longs for, i.e., what G-d longs for is upon me (the Jewish People) to fulfill. What exactly does G-d want from us?

In all relationships both sides must offer something. G-d’s desire is to bestow His goodness upon us. However, this desire alone is not enough. We, therefore, must, through our prayers, cause this desire to be drawn down from Above into this world. But how do we accomplish this?

There are in fact two parts to our job. First, we must place our trust in G-d, arousing in G-d, so to speak, a general desire to fulfill our needs. Simply put, it is our faith that motivates G-d to be there for us. Next, through our sincere prayers, praising G-d’s kindness and mercy and proclaiming Him as our savior and healer, we further arouse in G-d a desire to express Himself in accordance with the attributes that we praise.

Thus, we can explain the above verse as follows: “I am my Beloved’s” tells of the total trust we have in G-d to take care of us. And the phrase, “And His longing is upon me” teaches of our obligation to draw down G-d’s longing, which is to bestow good upon us, in order for it to be manifest in the world.

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