We enjoyed a truly spiritual evening at Chizuk Amuno Saturday night. We learned about making prayer personal, and were moved deeply by the beautiful music and reflective mood of our Selihot prayers for forgiveness. The High Holy Day season has begun.
During the study session which Rabbi Wechsler and I taught, I asked those present to identify a significant moment in their life, a happy or sad time when they felt intense meaning. I then suggested that they write themselves a letter about that memory, or in some other private way attempt to describe what they felt. Not to be shared, this expression is for no one else.
I indicated that our ability to pray comes from this awareness. We need to be able to hear ourselves and to bring the honesty of our souls before God’s presence. Two things are all we really need to know in order to pray. Who we are and what it is we feel today. Personal prayer comes from the content of our lives, and the yearnings of our hearts.
The words of the prayerbook, the melodies of the service, and the environment of the synagogue may inspire our prayer. But only we can affect ourselves in order to pray things of consequence.
A number of people didn’t follow my advice! Via email this morning they shared with me heartfelt written descriptions of their meaningful life moments. I am touched and inspired. But more important, they are prepared to pray.