I heard this somewhere and it has stuck with me because when I hear people say, “What good is prayer?” it makes me wonder if people didn’t pray, how could/would they hold on to hope for better times, for the health of someone suffering, for the peace and safety we all crave? There is no way to get around the word hope when wishing for what we envision as an improved situation, good health, a just world.
We live in chaotic times and it seems everyday we have Breaking News that rattles our sensibilities more than yesterday, even though we thought yesterday couldn’t be topped! As individuals, it’s not uncommon for us to wonder what we could do to make things better. As individuals, we are smart enough to know we can’t change the world totally by ourselves, as much as we would like to. So what next? What can I do? What can you do?
I don’t know. I can only hope we educate ourselves/others to have the correct facts on what we are hoping could be better; whether it’s a pandemic, equality for all, family and personal health, better job. Having the truths, facts, the reality, the certainty, the actuality to know the truth-truths is a step in hoping the outcome will be for the welfare of those concerned.
Coming together in community, working as a unit, with a collective goal for the mutual benefit of all, gets us closer to hope/tikvah. Prayers for strength and healing often soothes when we pray as a group, as we are with people who share our understanding of tikvah and our voices and passions, as one, might be heard. And as we pray for the greater-good together, we often heal ourselves while receiving a sense of camaraderie and understanding that we aren’t alone in our concerns. And prayer is not the same for everyone, as it can look and sound different than what we might expect. Silent synagogue prayer groups, yoga, meditation, a mindfulness practice are all ways of prayer, as these all insinuate a hope for improvement.
AND prayer doesn’t have to mean we are asking for something, it could be an offering of “thanks” for our blessings, “I appreciate what I already have.” I bet G-d likes those kinds of prayers!
I have a ritual, twice a day, saying personal prayers. Because G-d has been there for me so many times in my life, I am naive enough to believe SHE hears me, even the shortened version before bedtime. I say each name of the people I am praying for out loud so there is no confusion as to whom I am referring to. Makes me feel better, gives me hope I am being heard! But I have a dilemma that worries me and that’s when I am no longer around to pray: who will take over the prayers to keep my loved ones safe and healthy? As I do believe, my continued prayers keep my loved ones out of harm’s way and nourished for health.
I’ve contemplated confiding to one of my granddaughters, the 14-year-old who has the soul of a wise old woman, knowing she would totally get where I’m coming from. But I worry that if I ask her to continue my prayers when I am no longer here, it might be a burden on her to take on such a responsibility. I wouldn’t want her to feel guilty if she forgot the prayers one day or felt it was too much to refuse my last wish. I will contemplate this some more, as it is important to me that G-d hears the names of those I need to pray for, even if I can’t. And I hope I don’t have to worry about this for a long while!
As our calendar pages of 2020 flip, and maybe not rapidly enough, we can’t wait for this difficult year to be in the past. As we celebrated Passover and added the 11th Plague to our Haggadahs, we weren’t aware quite yet how this pandemic would change the face of the earth and how our daily lives would be unrecognisable. To those who are sick, to those who have lost loved ones, to those who have lost their jobs, to those who live alone and are living with no hugs, to all the children whose innocence has been robbed, let’s join in a collective prayer of hope/tikvah on the next Shabbat and send prayers and wishes for brighter days filled with the sweetness our world can offer.
And along with our requests for hope/tikvah, acknowledging our appreciation and gratitude for our blessings and good fortunes will hopefully go a long way!