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?


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 We are depositing our request, but we don’t know when it will be withdrawn.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.