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10 Ways You Can Reach God

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Va’eschanan – Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11

Any golfer can tell you it takes a bagful of clubs to play an effective game. You need woods to hit long distances. Use irons for short and approach shots. And you make your money with a putter. As they say, “Drive for show, putt for dough.” There are golfers who play an entire course with just a driver. But they’ll play better with a complete set. The same goes for prayer. Parshas Va’eschanan shows one of 10 ways to reach G-d:

“And I implored to G-d at that time…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 3:23)

10 Ways You Can Reach God

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with Moses begging G-d to change His decree and let him enter the land of Israel. Then Moses exhorts the Israelites to keep G-d’s commandments. He sets the example by setting aside Cities of Refuge. Next Moses reviews the Ten Commandments and teaches the people the Shema prayer. Finally, Moses urges the people that rather than succumbing to prosperity they should diligently teach their children about the Exodus from Egypt and to follow the Torah.

How to Reach God

You know that how you talk to someone can affect the response you receive. Not as obvious is that the way you communicate impacts yourself. If you talk about a happy event with your shoulders slumped and your head hanging down it won’t feel as positive. If you sing to yourself when you’re sad, it can brighten your day.

The way you communicate with the Almighty shapes the nature and power of your prayer. The Midrash, a compendium of commentary on the Torah, lists 10 expressions of prayer:

  1. Pleading. You turn to God and make an articulate plea for release from a difficult situation.
  2. Crying Out. Like pleading, but rather than being comprehensible words the prayer is a wordless cry from your heart.
  3. Moaning. Deeper than crying out, your expression of pain reaches God as an appeal for help.
  4. Singing. You sing God’s praises for His blessing of good times. Or you intone words of solace in His support when life challenges you.
  5. Entreaty. You repeat a request, even when you think the Almighty has said no. It demonstrates your belief that at any time God can help you.
  6. Self-Fortification. Praying just to connect with the Creator during challenging times.
  7. Calling Out. You call to God by name acknowledging He stands ready to help at any moment.
  8. Falling Down. You need not physically collapse. Rather, you rid yourself of pride. You adopt an attitude of mental and spiritual humility that all control is in God’s hands.
  9. Praying. Basic speaking with the Almighty that recognizes He embodies truth.
  10. Imploring. Beseeching God to grant your petition while recognizing you do not merit it.

You can learn to communicate better with your spouse and children. Many classes are available. Unfortunately rarely will you find training to connect better with the Creator.

Learning more than one expression of prayer will help you reach God in ways previously unavailable to you. Practice one of these modes before you need it. Can you articulate the words of a plea or song? Can you focus your despair into a cry or a moan? Can your muster enough stamina to entreat? Can you subdue your ego long enough to fall down?

You may have worked hard to learn a second language. Doing so probably brought you greater business or social opportunities. Untroubled, you may not see a good reason for mastering multiple ways to connect with God. Remember, He always responds to your prayers. But the answer you get may depend on the expression you use.

Despite his lofty status, Moses used every form of prayer to connect with the Almighty. Follow his example. Next time you really need Him, be prepared to reach God.

How many expressions of prayer do you use now? Please comment below.

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Why It Seems G-d Does Not Answer Your Prayers

Parsha Nugget Va’eschanan – Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11

“Why doesn’t G-d answer my prayers?”  The typical response, “He does, it's just that the answer is no” is not satisfying.  Parshas Va’eschanan gives a more reassuring explanation:

“For which is a great nation that has a G-d Who is close to it, as is Hashem, our G-d, whenever we call Him?” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 4:7)

Why It Seems G-d Does Not Answer Your Prayers

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This week’s parsha begins with Moses praying that G-d will change His decree and let him enter the land of Israel.  Then Moses exhorts the Israelites to keep G-d’s commandments and sets the example by setting aside Cities of Refuge.  Next Moses reviews the Ten Commandments and teaches the people the Shema prayer.  Finally, Moses urges the people that rather than succumbing to prosperity they should diligently teach their children about the Exodus from Egypt and to follow the Torah.

Every good parent knows that constant gratification of a child’s wishes spoils him.  Today’s helicopter parents do their children no favor by immediately responding to every sign of discomfort.  Such behavior may make them feel like good parents but it infantilizes their offspring and gives them a false sense of entitlement that the world will not fulfill.

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G-d wants us to grow.

So when your prayer seems to go unanswered, consider whether G-d is saying:

  1. Not right now. While you may think that immediately granting your request is imperative, G-d has a longer view.  Have you noticed how many young celebrities can't handle their fame and fortune?  G-d’s insight sometimes leads Him to delay giving you what you want until you are ready.  In the meantime, you have an opportunity to develop patience.
  2. You haven't shown enough desire. What have you done to show G-d you truly crave that for which you are praying?  If you want wealth it's unlikely G-d will give it to you before you have spent the hours, days, even years to show you've committed to earning it.  If G-d did not answer your first prayer, try again, more earnestly.  There are opportune times for prayer that you can't discern.  Keep praying.
  3. You have shown insufficient faith.  Traditionally Jews pray for the same nineteen requests three times a day.  Unlike a human ruler, who would be annoyed by such persistence, this tenacity shows G-d you understand that only He is capable of solving your problems and fulfilling your needs.  You must convince Him, and yourself, of your faith if you want your prayers to be answered.
  4. You need to clean your slate.  If your child misbehaved you would not reward him.  Similarly, G-d wants your conduct to be sufficiently meritorious to justify granting your request.  When your prayers seem to go unanswered, review your behavior, especially in the area related to your appeal.  Mending your lapses allows G-d to heed your prayers.

Thinking of G-d as a celestial butler may be comforting. But your perception of the Almighty should attest to a mature understanding of the relationship He wants with you.  Like a good parent, He rarely answers no.  By working through the other options you will improve your character, deepen your faith, and model behavior that will enhance your marriage, friendships, and other relationships.

What do you do to get your prayers answered?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

What You Can Learn from a Murderer

Parsha Nugget Massei – Numbers 33:1-36:13

Who is wise? He who learns from all people. – Ben Zoma

This saying, from Ethics of the Fathers (the best known part of the Talmud) affirms every person, no matter how ignorant or evil, has something to teach.  But murderers?  Yes, even them as parshas Massei demonstates:

“. . . Cities of Refuge they will be for you, and will flee there a murderer, one who strikes a soul unintentionally.” (Numbers/Bamidbar 35:11)

 What You Can Learn from a Murderer

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This week’s parsha, which completes the fourth book of the Torah - Numbers/Bamidbar, reviews the journeys taken by the Israelites from Egypt through the wilderness and ending at the border of the Land of Israel.  Then, it gives instructions for dividing the land. It ends with directions for designating cities for the Levites and Cities of Refuge including who may seek refuge there.

A man was boasting about what a good citizen he was and what a refined, disciplined lifestyle he led.  "I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't gamble, I don't cheat on my wife, I am early to bed and early to rise and I work hard all day and attend religious services faithfully."  He leads an exemplary life, no?  Then he added, "I've been like this for the last five years, but just you wait until they let me out of here!"

Although prisons were not part of the Jewish judicial system, there were occasions when individuals would have their freedom restricted.  One such example was the Ir Miklat, the City of Refuge.  A person who committed unintentional murder fled to one of the specially designated cities throughout Biblical Israel where he got safe haven from an avenging relative of the victim.  His term of exile ended when the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, died

The Talmud discusses the development of an interesting practice.  The Kohen Gadol’s mother brought gifts of food to those exiled. That way they wouldn't pray for the early death of her son, through which their own freedom came.

How strange!  Here is a man who, though not a premeditated murderer, negligently killed someone.  He is less than righteous.  Opposite him stands the High Priest of Israel: noble, aristocratic and, arguably, the holiest Jew alive.  Of the entire nation, he alone had the awesome responsibility and privilege of entering the inner sanctum of the Holy Temple, the "Holy of Holies," on Yom Kippur.  He defined righteousness.

The rabbis teach that G-d does not allow misfortune to befall the righteous.  Why did his mother fear that the prayers of a morally tainted prisoner? Why would his prayers have such a negative effect on her son that she shleped food parcels to distant cities to soften him up?  Does this make sense?

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This conflict demonstrates:

Prayer is Limitlessly Powerful.

Whether by an individual or group, noble or ordinary, righteous or sinful, prayer can transform your life and refashion the world.

Of course, there are no guarantees.  Otherwise, houses of worship would be overflowing every day.  Although most potent in Hebrew, the language of Creation, and with a congregation, sincerity is the crucial ingredient for praying successfully.  "G-d wants the heart.”  The language and the setting are secondary to the genuineness of your prayers.  Nothing can be more authentic than a tear shed in prayer.

By all means, learn the language of the Siddur, the prayer book.  Improve your Hebrew reading so you can follow the services and pray with fluency.  But most important of all: Be sincere.

May G-d answer all your prayers.

What practices help you to pray most sincerely?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below

 

Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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