The LORD is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29

Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are – not what God does. Our devotions throughout this month are focused on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers. For more inspirational teachings about prayer, download our free booklet, The Work of the Heart.

Do you believe that God hears our prayers? Chances are that if you are reading this, you would probably answer yes. However, while most of us believe in our heads that God listens to our prayers, sometimes it’s hard to really feel it in our hearts. In a world of billions of people, can it really be that God hears every word I say? That He cares?

Recently I heard a beautiful story that demonstrates the truth that we all know but sometimes have difficulty feeling — that God really is right beside us, listening, and reacting to our prayers.

The story goes that a Jewish couple from Los Angeles recently visited Israel. On a whim, they decided to go out of their way to dine in a particular restaurant in the coastal town of Herzliya. This restaurant had two levels, and while the couple was initially seated on the bottom floor, they asked their waiter if they could move to the top floor so that they could enjoy the magnificent view. The waiter obliged, and they were moved upstairs where a different waiter took over. This waiter told the couple about that evening’s specials and took their orders. As he walked away, he said “If you need anything, my name is Barak.”

Well, that name caused the couple to freeze. They called the waiter back and asked him, “Barak, is your mother’s name by chance Orna?” The surprised waiter replied, “Yes!” The couple continued, “Did you fight in last year’s war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge?” Again, the waiter answered, “Yes, I did!”

The startled couple proceeded to explain that during the war, they had called a number, which gave out names of Israeli soldiers fighting in the conflict. The idea was that people outside of Israel could pray for those fighting in Israel. In Judaism, when praying for someone, we mention their name followed by their mother’s name. This couple was given the name, “Barak son of Orna.” Here he was standing before them – the young man they had been praying for – and he was alive and well.

Even more amazing is that just before the trip, the woman who had been praying for Barak wondered if he indeed survived and what had become of him. She prayed, asking God if He could possibly help her find out how Barak the son of Orna was doing. God not only had heard her prayers, but also had made this miracle possible.

This sweet story can encourage us all to pray harder and more passionately knowing that God hears every word and knows how to make our prayers turn into reality. Today, let’s pray with more faith and steadfast belief that God is listening.

To download a free copy of Rabbi Eckstein’s newest teaching resource on prayer, Work of the Heart: Ten Biblical Lessons on the Power of Prayer, go here.

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