So what is prayer? I have a personal theory. My path to where I am now spiritually wandered through transcendental meditation. It was great, and I sometimes revisit that wonderful place. But as I got older, transcending the world didn’t work for me. My life was high impact and escape to serenity didn’t seem to be the answer. When I started doing Hitboddedut as described by Rebbe Nachman, I felt that approach was more suited to me but it left me constantly in conflict with God. I have learned to be okay with that. I believe that God created the world because he was lonely. First he created a space where he seemed not to be, and that created space for an other. He made us in his image, creating us with his hands, putting his breath of life in us. By giving us the torah he made us partners in creation. Raising our hands at the condition of something that seems bad, saying it is God’s will, is not an option. We are active and equal partners and are accountable for everything that happens in the world. So let’s say someone gets very sick. We pray for him to get better. What does that mean? We are asking God to change his mind. We are saying ‘God, I know it is your will that this person is sick. I know that from your perspective. It is a good thing. From where you sit, it is the best, kindest, most beautiful thing. But, God, you required me to connect with you. You made me a partner. From where I sit, from the perspective of flesh and blood, in the temporal plane, he is suffering. I am sad because he is suffering. I will accept whatever you decide is best. But you MUST take my feelings into account because you brought me into existence and made me as I am.” Prayer, for me, is frequently an argument. Like Tevye said (and us dairy farmers have to stick together), “Lord who made the lion and the lamb, you decreed, I should be what I am. But, would it spoil some vast eternal plan?” I think that by showing God the human perspective, he becomes a better God. And a closer friend.
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