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Does G-d Ignore My Prayers?

Does G-d Ignore My Prayers?

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Question:

I am on a high from Yom Kippur. I was truly moved by the prayers and the songs. But the little skeptic within me has one niggling question. There is something very important to me that for many years I have been praying for, and it has still not materialized. Are my tears wasted? Can I believe in the power of prayer when, in my experience, it hasn’t worked?

Answer:

No prayer is ignored and no tear goes unnoticed. But the response is not always in the form we expect it to be.

At the high point of Yom Kippur, toward the end of the day in the Neilah prayer, we address G‑d with the following plea: “You who hears the sound of weeping, store our tears in Your flask, and save us from all cruel decrees.”

This seems to be a strange expression. Why would G‑d store our tears? It doesn’t seem to be of any use to keep our tears in a flask.

The meaning behind this is profound. Not always are our prayers answered in the way we want them to be. Sometimes, in His wisdom, G‑d does not grant us our wishes at the time we demand them. Instead, He stores away our tears and files away our prayers, to be taken out and answered at another time.

We are not privy to G‑d’s timetable, and we don’t get His system. But every word and every tear is accounted for, and makes an impact. When and how that impact is felt by us is up to G‑d. A prayer said today for someone’s health may take effect only many years later. We are depositing our request, but we don’t know when it will be withdrawn.

In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that energy can never be destroyed, it just changes from one form to another. There is a similar law in metaphysics. No prayer is ever lost; no tear is ever wasted. Your request will be granted; it just may be in an unexpected form. So keep praying, because every word is stored away. It will rebound back to you when you need it most.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Yisroel Aryeh Leib (Steve) NJ January 5, 2016

Joshua of Richardson I am with you. My future ex wife has free will, regrettably, misguided, foolish as in lacking insight into reality,lacking wisdom & depth & I am with you. I too have prayed for years for the integrity of my nuclear family of my no16 yr old son and grievously suffering 13 yr old daughter and my ex wife suffering for her choices. Not being together is pain for all of us. "Unfortunately" ex-wife (now incl daughter) has free will, misguided I think. But she is entitled to her perceptions as am I. HaShem seems to go here with personal choice as serving the souls more than "reality per my perception." Who knows what growth she and daughter will reap. It is a mess; seems harmful to me but I cant see HaShem's insights, designs, plans, but His wisdom far exceeds mine.
Sound familiar? Perhaps.
Bottom line? Keep praying. your prayers will be answered but likely the outcome will be better for all than your conception. Sometimes the answer is NO, But a better outcome than you C Reply

Gila January 4, 2016

SomeONE is listening Joshua In my belief our Eternal One does hear us. The problem may lie in the timeline. Ours is finite, our Creator's timeline is infinite.
Since the beginning of our earth, the Creator has seen and heard everything. So with this, can we ask for an answer in our timeline?
I have to believe so, others may not, I cannot help but believe that G-d knows each stroke of a bee's wing and every beat of our hearts. Even through the most difficult times a solution comes. Not in the form asked for, but it comes. This may be your biggest tribulation, do not give up, or in. May blessings come to you and your family. Shalom. Reply

Joshua Richardson December 30, 2015

Is this true? Is this true? Or is this happy fluffy stuff we tell ourselves to make us feel better? Do we attribute the normal flow of life to God? Does God have any interest or care about our pain at all? Why would an infinite God, creator of everything, have the slightest interest in my pain. And if, for some reason, He did, why doesn't He do anything about it? I'm getting so tired of feeling like my prayers are falling on deaf ears. Or worse yet, falling on no ears at all. I am trying so hard! I am praying so hard! Why does it feel like I am the only one putting effort into this relationship! Is there anybody listening? Or am I fooling myself? What good is it to teach His words faithfully to my children, if they are lies? Why teach my children to pray, if there is no one listening? How can I expect my children to trust God when they haven't seen Him answer! God! Return my wife, my daughters' mother to me! Make us into the godly family You wish us to be! Please answer! Reply

Yisroel Aryeh Leib NJ November 12, 2015

Prayer + Action You have a body and a soul; similarly you have action and prayer. You have to take sufficient actions to create a vessel HaShem can fill with blessings; we have to act like it all depends on us and leave the rest to HaShem. Here is the same idea in a different context: chabad.org article Why-Work-for-a-Living Reply

Joshua Richardson, TX November 11, 2015

Still Praying I read this article almost daily. I'm still praying for the reunification and reconciliation of my wife Eva and I. May it happen and may it be soon! G-d get us back together and soon. Make a miracle! Reply

Anonymous October 30, 2015

word of G-d speak! also, prayer needs to change our own hearts, it's not going to change His Heart, which is unchanging, and already infinitely merciful. We are the ones who need an increase in faith, hope, love, strength, comfort, mercy, etc. etc. Part of the trouble with praying is that He feels so distant sometimes... like it's hard to get to know Him personally... if only there was a way to learn Who He really is... if only He would reveal Himself in a down-to-earth way?...so we know He understands our feelings, our sufferings, our life? If only He had a Mother too, praying would be so much easier, simpler...because she would pray for us I'm sure, wouldn't she? Sometimes we are afraid of the strict severe Father...but what about the gentle Mother who intercedes? This is what we need. If only the Divine Word...spoken to "let there be light" from the beginning...could shed light on our world, to speak to our hearts today in a way we can understand better...in a living translation...word of G-d speak! :) Reply

Drowning Man FL October 30, 2015

To Rachel Don't worry I'm not going to kill myself. Just an expression of how I feel. Though. Hopeful yet so distressed. Reply

Gary Tolchinsky New York October 30, 2015

To Drowning Man... Like Rachel below, I felt moved by your letter and the pain behind it. I know this is easier said than done, and requires a certain perspective, but if making a difference is your goal,
what may matter most is the degree to which you can bring people closer to G-D, as well as yourself.

At the end of the day, these efforts can transform the world more than any general or fireman. Indeed, they may make the difference if the general succeeds or fails. The general may be successful not so much on his physical prowess, but because a fellow Jew in
Switzerland (or wherever) is doing an act of kindness for a stranger or making peace between two adversaries. The fireman may rescue a child in a burning building because that child's grandfather was near starvation in a concentration camp but gave part of his bread to someone in even worse shape.

You are in a VERY difficult situation, but from where you are, your actions/thoughts/prayers can impact many people you don't even know. Good luck Reply

Rachel Israel October 29, 2015

To Drowning man To Drowning Man in sea,
I am not religious, and am a very simple Jew. I just wanted to say that your post really moved me and that I think you are far more of a hero than any fireman or military General that you dream of. That is without doubt in my mind.
If I can see that then G-d must do to. I also suffer from chronic illness and a lot of us feel frustration in life and with G-d sometimes. That is part of being human.
To Drowning man, if you are struggling so much that you feel like killing yourself then please contact someone close to you and if you can not find someone then you can email me. I am not a trained counseller, just a simple person who lives with chronic pain (not muscular dystrophy like you). You can email me via the editor.
Perhaps G-d is with you when you are suffering too, even in the silence ?
Please Hang on in there Drowning Man. Reply

RAY ALEXANDER October 29, 2015

unanswered prayers sometimes God takes a little more time to answer prayers because he may be testing you. And then again he may with hold action on those prayers if he perceives that the thing or action requested will have a negative effect in your life. Reply

Gila Ocala, October 29, 2015

Prayers in G-d's time and wisdom I carry this in my wallet and have for years. I hope it helps:
I asked G-d for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health, that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity, that I might to better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy. I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of G-d. I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life. I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for-but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoiled prayers were answered. I am among all men-most richly blessed. Reply

Yisroel Aryeh Leib NJ October 29, 2015

Moshe's Un-Unanswered Prayers The Torah tells in the opening verses of Parashat Vaethanan that Moshe pleaded with God to allow him to cross the Jordan River with Benei Yisrael and enter the Land of Israel. However, despite Moshe's impassioned pleas, God denied him permission to enter the land, and commanded him not to continue praying for this matter.

The Sages tell us that Moshe uttered no fewer than 515 prayers in requesting permission to enter the Land of Israel. This number is alluded to in the Parasha's opening word – "vaethanan" ("I pleaded") – which has the numerical value of 515 (6+1+400+8+50+50=515).

The obvious question arises, if God knew that He would not grant Moshe's request, and that He would ultimately instruct Moshe to discontinue his prayers, why did He wait for Moshe to complete 515 prayers? Why did He not interrupt Moshe immediately as he began praying, and thus spare him the time and effort he invested in reciting the additional 514 prayers?

The Rabbis teach us that there is no such thing as a wasted or unanswered prayer. If a person prays for something and his request is not granted, he must not conclude that his prayer was recited in vain. God stores all our prayers in a "prayer bank" of sorts from where they are "withdrawn" at some later point, perhaps for somebody else, and perhaps only generations later. If a person prays for an ill patient Avraham Ben Sara, and the patient unfortunately does not survive his illness, those prayers will perhaps be effective in bringing a cure to another Avraham Ben Sara somewhere else in the world. During the years of the Communist movement, the children of many righteous Jews and Torah scholars abandoned Judaism and joined the atheistic Communists. Their parents recited untold numbers of prayers and shed rivers of tears asking that their children should return to their heritage and traditions. Their prayers were not immediately answered, but many children and grandchildren of these Jewish Communists have returned to Jewish observance. The grandparents' prayers were not recited in vain; they were not meaningless. They were stored and preserved in the heavenly "prayer bank" and ultimately succeeded in bringing scores of Jews back to Torah and Mitzvot.

For this reason, perhaps, God did not interrupt Moshe's prayers despite the fact that the decree was irreversible. He anticipated that in future generations, Benei Yisrael would face crisis and hardship and would lack sufficient merit to earn salvation. Moshe's 515 prayers were necessary to save the Jewish people when they would otherwise be unworthy of being saved. Who knows if our existence today is owed to the merit of Moshe's 515 prayers!

Never should a person despair from praying. Even if one's requests are not immediately granted, they will nevertheless have a meaningful impact and effect on somebody at some point in time. Every heartfelt prayer and every chapter of Tehillim is significant and beneficial – regardless of whether we can immediately discern its impact. Reply

Emese Oseni Scarborough October 29, 2015

Does G-d Ignore my Prayers? The answer to that is no. Hashem hears our prayers and sees our tears, and he might not come to us right away. Be patient and you will, when you least expect it, get the answers that you've been waiting for. Reply

Loretta Workman California October 28, 2015

I believe all prayers are answered. Sometimes, the answer is no. It took me 30 years to understand that prayer is not a demand, it is a thanksgiving, a heartfelt plea for understanding and enlightenment. A man said of my grandfather that as a young man, he found my grandfather's prayers to be long and unending; yet as he aged, he found them to be shorter and shorter as he, too, became grateful for all of his own blessings. Reply

Josh Richardson, TX October 27, 2015

Physics Analogy I When I first saw this post on my FB feed, I was tempted to respond in anger, even before reading it. For many years, I feel like my prayers have been ignored. Even so up to the point where today, I am not even sure if anybody is even listening or not. Today, I don't know if I know/believe there is a God or anyone listening. If there is a God, why has he chosen to remain silent these past many years? Recently however, I have become so heartbroken, I have begun praying again. I can no longer keep my sorrows in. I hope God is listening. For years I prayed for a healthy heart and healthy mind. I think that is happening. For years I prayed to be able to love my wife (now ex-wife), the way she needs to be loved and to have a happy successful marriage. That is still my prayer. I pray to one day reunite and reconcile with my ex-wife, restore our family, and we will love each other the way we need to be loved, and meet each other’s needs. I miss her so much it breaks my heart.

So as I mentioned in my previous post, I was tempted to respond in anger and out of my hurt. But, when I got to the end of the article I read the physics analogy. I am a man of science, and equations can be just as holy as words from the Torah. So, the physics analogy put me in my place. I do hope He hears Reply

Drowning Man Sea October 27, 2015

How long does one need to suffer? Dear Mr. Moss, how long does one need to weep?. All I want in my life is to help people. I speak evil of no one, and hurt no one. Yet since my youth I was affected with muscular dystrophy. My dreams of being a fireman vanished. My dreams of being a general in the army vanished. My financial aid gone. No job to gain a substantial income. No luck in finding a Siren to comfort me. Stuck in my psychological abusive father's home. I don't hate him. Our way of living are years apart, and every day I just can't take it no more. I feel like killing myself. I have become a drone. Sure I help and love my dad. He gives me so much for helping him in the office, but that's not substancial income for me to move by myself. In my youth(13/2003ish) my muscles were tighneted and I was not able to run free anymore. Each year it got worse. I told myself "After high school i'll be cured"*2011 yet here I still am Struggling. My dream was to be the best Military General out there, yet it vanished. Reply

Cindy Colorado October 27, 2015

So positive and hopeful an answer.
I do believe prayers are powerful and Hashem
Hears them all. Reply

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