I don't know how to pray, but I'm giving it a try. I'm not the kind of person that enjoys praying in a synagogue very much, so I'm out here, trying to strengthen my connection with my Creator, by standing in the front yard very early this morning.

With the gentle sunshine warm on my face, I'm talking out loud. I feel kind of silly and awkward, but it's pleasant too, and I remind myself of all the people I see walking around with bluetooths in their ears. They are also speaking into the air in front of them, so I think that I don't really look so strange, if someone on the sidewalk should pass by, and see me slowly and carefully talking out here to nobody else that they can see.

I like hearing my real voiceNow that I think about it, maybe the people with bluetooths actually have something to do with giving me the encouragement to finally stand here and try this.

I have wanted to learn how to pray for many years., but I'm good at avoiding it. There are always so many other things I'd rather do. I have a feeling that I would even rather cut my toenails than talk to G‑d. So last Thursday I put little sticky notes that I can't avoid seeing in several places in my house that I can't avoid going to, with hopes that this will prevent me from avoiding speaking to G‑d. Oh, but I still manage to!

All that the reminder notes say on them is "Forty." I am trying to start up a conversation with G‑d for forty days straight, and then see where it goes from there. It's just an experiment, I keep telling myself, so I don't feel any pressure to keep this up for the rest of my life.

I'll tell you what I appreciate about it so far. I like hearing my real voice. Because then I can hear what I genuinely care about most. And I sure don't want to waste any meaningless words doing this. I want to mean what I say, and when I say something that I don't really mean – I can hear it in my voice right away.

I learned that the Hebrew word for prayer is "tefillah," and "tefillah" comes from the word "leheetpalel" which means 'to judge oneself". And that's exactly what happens. I don't judge myself harshly, or anything. But the truth quickly becomes obvious.

How much do I really care about another's happiness? Do I pray as seriously for my sister's desires, as for my own? And if I do care about somebody else's happiness to include them in my prayers, which somebody else do I include? How wide a scope does my caring have? Does it encompass my whole family, all the Jewish people, all the people in the world, all forms of life, how about our precious planet? The moment I start praying for something or someone I don't really care about, my voice is a dead giveaway to me.

And this is making me more honest with myself, when I just notice where I'm at. There's more awareness created through these spoken words emitted, as they are no longer just floating thoughts inside my head. This is helping me see much more clearly which parts of myself I may need to develop more.

The few brief words I say out loud into the air, I hope are going to be heard by the Cosmic Source of the Universe. And I'm hearing them. So that makes, at least, kind of two of us. But I also am coming to believe that prayers, like a butterfly's fluttering wings, can create vibrations, that can eventually create a full-blown tornado, in some far-flung other place in the world.

It makes sense to me that good vibes can travel anyplace, so I am actually trying to say prayers out loud that can easily travel through walls, up hills, and across oceans, just like we know other forms of energy can. I started praying out loud for the lonely friend in the hospital who I wasn't able to visit yesterday, for my prayer to create a lightness in her heavy heart when I couldn't be there.

I'm really just interested in things going the way that I think they should goThis is something new for me. I didn't check if my friend felt a response to my prayers at 4:35 PM yesterday, as I don't think prayers, which must travel way beyond the speed of light, even have any time constrictions. When I actually say this kind of stuff out loud, though, instead of just thinking the vague thoughts, it suddenly helps my heart feel lighter.

I like to say some words in Hebrew when I pray because I deeply believe that the Hebrew letters have a spiritual energy like no other alphabet has, but I don't want to say too many of them at once. I want to understand what I'm saying, and try to appreciate an miniscule fraction of the spiritual power of each word, and savor it slowly. The standard liturgy speaks a lot about peace and love and gratitude, I know, but I do get lost when there are too many words to say.

I am trying to articulate what's in my soul by praying. I am trying to recognize that there is a spiritual wellspring from which I can draw, and that there is a source for infinite blessings, including those that may not feel at all like blessings. I am getting a sense of peace and love and gratitude while I pray, and I am listening to the birds singing in the early morning beside me, and the trees and the blades of grass with bugs on them, and we all call out together.

My prayers are starting to help me face that I'm really just interested in things going the way that I think they should go, not necessarily according to what's best for me, one tiny, but integral part of the Cosmic Plan of the Universe. After I ask G‑d for help with something that I am feeling anxious about, and a simple calmness ensues, then I'm no longer standing alone in my front yard. I'm enveloped in infinite abundance.

"G‑d, thank You. Please keep showing me how to pray."