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Talking With G‑d

Talking With G‑d


Generally, we use our verbal skills to communicate our needs to others, or to respond to others' needs. There is usually a utilitarian goal in mind — a piece of information we wish to hear, or a request we would like to convey.

But these conversations, as important as they may be, do not do justice to the true power of speech. Speaking serves another, much more potent purpose when the conversation itself, and the connection it creates between people, is the objective. Friends will pick up a phone and call each other simply to keep in touch. The topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself Children call their parents, sometimes for a purpose (financial requests are high on the list of "purposes") — but usually the point of the conversation is just to touch base. A couple newly in love will spend endless hours talking about nothing, anything, and everything. With the advent of Instant Messaging, these conversations often continue through the workday as well (much to the consternation of many an employer). And just as the chat seems to be coming to an end, one of the parties will invariably find yet another "pressing" topic to discuss. Neither wishes to break the bond created by the conversation; neither wants to say "good bye."

Here we have a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts: the topics discussed are not as significant as the conversation itself.

The above also applies to our daily "conversations" with G‑d — a.k.a. "prayer". Prayer comes naturally when a person, G‑d forbid, experiences hardships. But passionate prayer when all is (relatively) well is, in a certain sense, a far more meaningful experience. Because our conversations with G‑d serve a dual purpose: they are an opportunity to beseech our Provider for health, prosperity and nachas from our children; but more importantly, they are also moments when we connect with our beloved Father in Heaven. Indeed, to a certain extent, the content of our prayers is less significant than the experience itself—an opportunity to connect with G‑d.

You have His attention; speak as long as you wish! The great sage Rabbi Yochanan summed it up with these words: "If only a person could pray all day long!"

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Anonymous LA, ca via December 19, 2014

pray I have been praying the same prayer for 20 years. What am I doing wrong? Reply

Cincinnati August 9, 2013

Can't wait to Pray My time in prayer is very precious to me. I get so overwhelmed by His presence all I can do sometimes is weep. It’s an experience I cannot explain but I treasure very much. Every morning I can’t wait to meet with Him in prayer.

My prayer time was not always like this, but when I started seeking His face in prayer, as time went on I started noticing how deeper my prayer life started becoming. Now, I can’t wait to meet with Him. Reply

Barbara July 10, 2013

HAPPINESS AND GRATIITUDE ARE PRAYERS I firmly believe that by enjoying our lives, ie, by soaking up the sunshine, admiring the beauty of birds, trees, flowers, new born babies, etc we are praying. When you are filled with joy and thankfulness to HaShem for giving us so many things to enjoy, this is prayer. HaShem always answers, and nothing is too trivial for Him. My neighbour's beloved cat went missing and of course, the family was frantic and the children were sobbing their hearts out. I quietly asked HaShem to bring the cat home safely, and it was soon done. I love talking to our beloved Father! Reply

Eric Aaron Salomon Germany November 8, 2012

Thanks G-d for being there for us I wrote the following paragraphs to thank G-d for this little thinks and the people around us who always stand there for us.

First, we must thank G-d for this wonderful world He created.
Then for the lovely and caring Parents He gave us, wonderful brothers and sisters and not to forget, the loving Bubby and Zeide who would nourish our self-esteem.

Thanks G-d for the neighbors we have, for the friends He gave us and for always having a Parent who would feed us, a Mother who would be happy to change our nappies or a Bubby who would tell those wonderful stories.

To whom we should cry out for help in times of distress and sorrow. When the whole world seems to be falling apart.

Can we rely and find comfort on our XXI century machines and advanced software we use everyday and to which we are becoming increasingly attached to?

Recognize HaShem in our lives. He is an Eternal Father. Everything in life will remain limited in space and time however HaShem, our Creator has no limits. Reply

Anonymous Montreal, Quebec, Canada June 29, 2011

Talking with G-d The title is "'Talking with G-d", but the content of the essay is "Talking to G-d". To me, "with" implies a direct response that I can hear and, hopefully, understand. There is nothing in this essay that suggests a reciprocal activity.

We speak to G-d, but we imagine a response of a sort. "With" implies a dialogue. In this essay, there is no suggestioin of a dialogue; we speak/pray, become enraptured by the experience, and imagine some direct repercussion, but there is no direct reply as there would be when we talk "with" someone. Reply

Neil Rockoff Ocean, NJ January 3, 2011

Praying to G-d It is the most wonderful time of the day for me, and it occurs many, many times. Praying :to" is indeed the key verses praying "for" but, some times one can, I'm sure, catch His attention by asking "for" certain important things in one's life. I have a simple saying: When I ask G-d to answer my prayers as He always seemed to have, I note that "even prayers unanswered are prayers answered in so many cases.". How many times have we "really needed a prayer answere, and asked G-d, in one case for me, regarding a special woman I fwlt was perfect for me, and it isn't answered and over time I find out what a terrible choice that would have been. So, see, G-d had answered my prayer by mot answering it. As for the rest of prayer requests I feel they are momentarily still in His hands and what better place for prayers not yet answered to be? Not a bed idea to, a dozen times a day, as you look up with a smile, and say "Baruch Hashem! You'll be amazed at how it will pick up your day. Bless Him! Reply

Richard Cape Town, South Africa September 22, 2010

talking to G_D G_D on high hear my Prayer
in my need you have always been there

thank you Reply

Samuel Milwaukee, WI April 20, 2010

Thanking G-d. I agree prayer is more important than what you are praying for, even though it took a while to understand how and why. I've been trying to explain to my son, who has chosen to be a Baptist minister, that prayers of thanks are better for the person praying than prayers of want. He is finding it difficult, but seems to be coming around to understand it is better for the individual to pray to than to pray for. Reply

Jane B. Tavlin Metairie, Louisiana April 3, 2010

Talking With G-d Yes, I read the prayers and I think about what I am reading...but my deepest prayers are those of "thanksgiving" and I thank G-d many times in a day for all the wonderful events of each day. Reply

Anonymous Easingwold, UK January 14, 2010

G-d speaking to us Don't we really want G-d to speak to us? Silence and listening are what we really need in this world. Most of us seem to address prayers to G-d to ask for something or (rarely) to give thanks for something. Shouldn't we be listening more to what G-d can say to us if we are silent for a time. Reply

P TX January 10, 2010

IMing A valid point. Reply

lauren los angeles October 15, 2009

Prayer Subject Object We are directed by English grammar to have a subject (at least) and often an object. Jewish prayer as translated commonly continues to mix this "voice", sometimes it's from the Torah or other Biblical writing ... the infinte is directing "you should" and sometimes it's prayer from humans "You do" ... the distinctions are mixed up. I think this is one of the reasons that the synagogue services and hisbodedus / speaking out loud to God seems confusing, difficult. Time for new translations / introductions / reconsiderion of seder tefilat. Reply

Judy Milton, GA June 10, 2009

Prayer In 2008 I prayed to G-d two especially hard prayers, as it was in regard to my loving husband and his health. G-d answered both prayers, and am very thankful. That isn,t and wasn,t the first time I prayed to G-d. I try to pray everyday. Reply

jila homami encino, ca. June 9, 2009

talking with G-d Every day and night , when I pray from the bottom of my heart , I know for sure G-d is listening to me. I always tell or write others, "May G-d be with you" , because million times he answered my prayers . It might take time ,but he'll answer you. Right when you are starting to get disappointd, just watch and be alert for the signs he's sending you. Think good and it will be good !! Reply

Machla Fraida Montreal, Canada May 30, 2009

praying, talking to G-d. I would pray to have health restored to persons really ill. But, I always felt uneasy asking for myself. I always felt it is trivial and wouldn't want to disturb G-d from other important matters. Now I get the sense that it is ok to speak, pray to G-d any time, that I will not be a bother him.
I hope this is true. I would hate to bother him with my pain, problems, fears when he has so much more imprtant things to take care of.
Thank you for listening. Reply

Pat MacLeod January 2, 2008

Prayer Before her death my Bubee told me she talked to our Heavenly Father throughout the day, all day long. Her life showed it. Reply

Anonymous January 2, 2008

and when you can not pray yourself... when you are ill or have fever and are not able to pray, it is such a wonderfull feeling to know that "klal Yisrael" is praying for you- Others ask G-d for you to heal you .
As for instance in the Amida, when you pray for "macotenu". And the ill one feels like a baby in mothers arms. Nothing can happen, all is well. G-d listens with faithful love. It is good to be G-ds child and on top of it: to be Jewish! Reply

Chaim Leime Teleshevsky S.M., CA January 1, 2008

Re: Asking for things when content Yes it is good to pray with intent even not in a time of distress.
The first three blessings of the Shmone Esrei are purely praise of G-D, the last three aren't requests per-se either.
The middle thirteen have plenty of requests that we still need 1. Wisdom, always need that. 2. Return to G-d, yup. 3.Forgiveness. 4. Redemption, I Do. 5. Health, thank G-d I have it, but I still want to keep it... 6. Sustenance, same here. 7. Ingathering of the Exiles... 8. Restoration of Jewish courts. 9. Informers, Backstabbers, from our own or otherwise?G-D spare us! 10. Hope. 11. Rebuild Jerusalem (howabout not deviding it again G-d forbid). 12. Moshiach Now! and finally... 13, ANSWER ALL OUR PRAYERS! whatever they are (petty things too). Reply

Sarah Masha January 1, 2008

To Amanda Surely you know people who need each of those things? If you really don't know anyone who needs help of any kind then please thank G-d for his generosity, and then think "of the people in X hospital", the people on welfare, etc. Remember, these blessings are for the basics of life, if G-d has been so very kind to you, thanks and gratefulness are appropriate. Reply

Naftali Silberberg (Author) January 1, 2008

The requests in the amidah prayer 1) Even if, thank G-d, you are not ill or needy, I'm sure you know others (or know of others) who are. We're all in this together... Notice that the requests are in plural form, "grant US..."

2) See a wonderful article by Yanki Tauber that illuminates this issue -- the importance of asking G-d for our physical needs -- A Glass of Milk. Reply

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