Some people see the human being as a lonely creature in an indifferent, and even hostile, universe. They need to look deeper, for the two are essentially one: The soul of man is G‑dly, and the soul of the universe is G‑d. Only in their outward expression does a conflict appear—or even that which may resemble indifference. But within is a love affair, an eternal, inseparable embrace. It is a drama King Solomon entitled “The Song of Songs,” for it is what lies at the core of every song, every human expression and all the cosmos: the longing to reunite, to be one, to create a harmony in the outer world that matches the perfect union that lies beneath.

This, too, is the work of prayer: We have our concerns. G‑d seems so distant from them. There is a vast chasm between our world and His. But then He says, “Speak to me about what bothers you. Tell me with all your heart what you desire, and I will listen. For what is important to you is important to me. Speak to me. I wish to dwell within your world.”

The chasm merges and seals. Outer and inner, higher and lower, spiritual and physical, holy and mundane, heaven and earth, kiss and become one.

There is a condition, however, to this healing of lovers’ hearts: that first we must find the inner sanctity that lies behind our own desires and strife. For there is nothing of this world that does not contain a divine spark, no movement of the soul without G‑dly purpose.

Only once we have made this peace within ourselves, between our inner souls and our outer desires, between the sanctuary of our hearts and the words of our lips, only then can we create this cosmic peace between the Essence of All Being and our busy, material world.

This is why prayer is called throughout the Psalms “an outpouring of the soul.” That which lies within pours outward, with no dam to obstruct it, no mud to taint it, nothing to change it along the way. The entire world may be ripping apart at the seams, but the beseecher’s heart and mouth are at peace as one. And then that peace spreads outward into all things.

There are many things we learn from the prayer of Chanah (recounted in I Samuel, chapter 1, and read as the haftorah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah). We learn that our lips must move in prayer, that we must be able to hear our own prayer but no one else should. We learn that prayer is to be said standing. But most important, we learn how to pour out our soul.

Eli thought Chanah was drunk with wine. He was the high priest, the holiest member of the Jewish nation. The divine spirit rested upon him, and he was able to see within the hearts of men and women. Yet, he saw Chana as a drunkard—drunk with a worldly desire, a desire for a child so that she would no longer suffer the shame and ridicule afforded her by Peninah.

But Chanah answered, “No, it is not wine, but my soul, that pours out to G‑d. For my desire for a child has purpose and meaning beyond the pursuits and follies of man. My child, the precious jewel of my heart’s desire—I have already given him to G‑d.”

So it is with our prayers: we pray for material things, but it is not the material, but the spiritual within them, that our soul desires.

The mission of every human being is to bring the many things of this chaotic world into harmony with their inner purpose and the oneness that underlies them. To do this, each of us must have those things related to our mission: our family, our health, our homes, our income. We pray for these things from our innermost heart; our soul pours out for them—because our soul knows that without them, she cannot fulfill her mission in this world.

And G‑d listens. Because He wishes to dwell within our mundane world.