The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth. — Psalm 145:18
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 the purpose of prayer, how to pray effectively, and the power of our prayers. Allow us to take your prayers to the holiest site in all Judaism, the Western Wall. To submit a prayer request to be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, please go here.
As the people of Israel stood at the very border of the land promised to them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses encouraged the Israelites to obey God’s laws and commands. In doing so, he told them, the other nations surrounding them would see and marvel at their wisdom and understanding. For, Moses asked them, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7).
Prayer — the ability to talk to God and the assurance that He hears us — is one of the hallmarks of our faith, for Jews and Christians alike. Prayer connects us to God. Through prayer, both Christians and Jews draw near to the personal, infinite, loving God of Israel, a Father who hears our cries and cares for us.
Prayer uplifts us, it cleanses us. Prayer gives expression to our natural longing for what the Jewish mystics would describe as “union with the divine,” and what Christians would define as a “personal relationship with God.” Isn’t that so?
Judeo-Christian belief embraces turning to prayer as a part of our quest to come face to face with the living God of the Universe. King David expressed this in Psalm 145:18, “The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.”
For a devout Jew, prayer is an integral part of everyday life. Our prayers may take on many forms – asking for our needs, seeking forgiveness, offering thanksgiving or praise – but regardless of the form, two elements must always be present. First, in Judaism, true prayer must always involve a time of looking inward — an element of personal introspection and self assessment. The very term “to pray” in Hebrew – tefilah – is derived from a word that means “to judge oneself.”
The second key element is a sincere heart. Devout Jews seek a right mindset to seek God and a right heart before Him when we enter into prayer. In the words of the rabbis, “The All Merciful One desires the heart.” David reflects this concept in Psalm 51, as he cries out to God for forgiveness, “But you desire honesty from the heart” (v. 6, NLT).
God will indeed hear us if we come before Him in truth, in introspection, and with the right heart. Come now, He is near to you.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President