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Jewish Journal

Prayer, Faith & God

by Ilana Angel

October 17, 2013 | 6:57 pm

This week I experienced a perfect evening. It was one of those nights where you think everything is good in the world.  By world of course I mean the exact place where you are.  I was relaxed and happy, focused on who I was with and what was being said, without worrying about anything. I felt safe and comfortable in the company of someone I admire and respect.

I have a lot of things going on. My son is applying to college, I’m having dental work done, my blogs are leading to new things in my professional life, and I have a lot on my mind.  I’m not a good sleeper but after my perfect evening I crawled into bed and fell asleep. By letting go of my own noise I was able to embrace quiet and get some much needed rest.

I have a lot of hopes and so I pray. Most of my prayers are for my son, family, and friends. I believe in the power of prayer and when I pray it is for those who matter to me, and a lot of the time for strangers I come across in my everyday life. I went to minyan this week and found myself saying prayers for people who matter to me, but I also prayed for myself.

I felt a bit uncomfortable praying for me. I often pray for guidance, but I don’t pray for myself to receive anything, yet this week I prayed for something just for me.  Not a material thing, but something I wanted for my heart and soul. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the day I asked God to help me, was the night I slept so well after so many sleepless nights.

The most important part of Jewish prayer is the time we spend looking inside ourselves to see what our role is in the universe, and our relationship to God.  I am very close to God.  He has eased my sorrow, given me strength, counted my tears, and guided me to places within myself where my courage can be found. My prayers are simple, yet important. I value prayer.

I pray in English, and Hebrew, in silence and aloud. There have been times in my life where I could feel the presence of God with me, and other times I struggled to feel it. I have been lost and he has guided me home, and times when I didn’t even know I was lost and he found me. I am blessed through prayer and truly have no expectations from God.

I am responsible for my own happiness, but I believe God wants me to be happy, healthy, and whole. I do not question God. I do question myself. I wonder if I am making the right choices and if I am being a good mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  I wonder if I will find a beshert to witness the second half of my life.  I wonder and I pray. Often.

This week was the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time. I was able to listen, laugh, be quiet, and not think so much that I could not enjoy the moment.  Life is full of blessings and we often miss them because life is too noisy. Joy comes from simple things and this week I allowed my life to be simple. In the simplicity came real joy and realized prayers.

I spoke to someone this week about the saying, “There but for the grace of God go I”.  I think of this often. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, or that God will not give me more than I can handle. I do believe however that if God leads me to it, he will lead me through it. God is good and prayer allows me to have faith. Not only in God, but in myself.

Faith is the thing I build my life around. It is not about God, or religion, it is just about faith. By definition, faith is the confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. I have faith. In times of both joy and sorrow I live my life with faith.  No matter who you pray to, how often you pray, or what you pray for, there is comfort in faith.

It is important to not only pray in times of crisis or fear, but to also pray when things are good. God likes to hear from me, and it is when I am happy that I am best able to hear him in return.  I don’t need to be in a place of worship to pray. Prayer is personal and needn’t be formal. Prayer is a free and easy thing we can do for ourselves.

There is a Yiddish proverb that says when man plans, God laughs. I have a lot of plans and it is in those plans where I store my hope. God is laughing with me not at me. I am on a new path and the view is lovely. I will meet many people during my lifetime and today I feel lucky to have met someone who is coaching me on wonderful new ways to keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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