Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
Psalm 32:6

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.

What should the truly faithful pray for?

In Psalm 32, we read: “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found…” In the Jewish tradition, the verse is understood like this: “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you – at a time of metzo.” The Hebrew word metzo has several meanings: “finding,” “leaving,” and “results.” Based on these meanings, five possible interpretations of this verse are offered. Each answers the question of what we should be praying for.

The first suggestion is that the most important prayer is for finding the right spouse. The person that we build our life with has the potential to lift us up or to bring us down. A spouse can help make us or break us. Therefore, the most critical prayer is that God help us and others find the right partner for life.

The second idea is that we must pray to find spiritual illumination. This is compared to lightning bolts on a dark and stormy night. Just as the lighting lights up the path, finding God’s Word and will for our life can illuminate our lives. We pray that God send us a multitude of flashes of light so that we know where to go, what to do, and how to remain faithful to Him at all times.

The third opinion is that we must pray for a good death – a time of leaving. Those who lived lives that were purely material, will experience death as a dark, horrible moment. Everything that matters to them will be gone. But for those who have lived life well – full of spirit and meaning – the time of departure from this world will be a graceful and delightful step into a wonderful afterlife.  We must always pray that this be our final experience.

The fourth suggestion is that we pray for a good burial at our time of leaving. What this means is that our departure from this world is significant to those we have left behind. We pray that our lives leave a legacy that brings others to God and goodness by the example that we have shone them.

The final explanation is the most surprising of all: The most important prayer is for … a bathroom! What?

Yes! The most important prayer of the faithful is for everything – all results we want to see in our lives – even a bathroom when we need one! We pray for the biggest things and the smallest things. The greatest spiritual aspirations and the most basic physical needs. For all of our prayers, there is one address: God. Our most important prayer to Him is every prayer to Him.

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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