“At that time I pleaded with the LORD:” — Deuteronomy 3:23
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Va’etchanan, which means “I pleaded,” from Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11.
Just how powerful is prayer?
I think that most of us have already figured out that prayer is very powerful. For me, prayer is how I get through each day, from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. It is what I relied on during the darkest days after my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, passed away. It is what has sustained me since.
But just how powerful is one prayer? Two prayers? One hundred prayers? How about just one more prayer than we have already said? For that answer, we will turn to this week’s Torah reading, Va’etchanan, meaning, “I pleaded.”
This week’s portion opens with Moses in prayer. He pleaded with the LORD to let him into Israel. Moses begged the LORD over and over again. According to Jewish tradition, Moses prayed that same prayer 515 times! But then God answered Moses, “That is enough… Do not speak to me anymore about this matter” (v.26). When God told Moses to stop praying, the implication was that if he had continued, God would have relented!
The incredible lesson that we can take from these verses is the power of just one more prayer. Often we pray for something, and whatever we ask for doesn’t manifest. Sometimes we give up right then and there. Other times, we pray a second time, or a third. But how many of us have prayed 515 times? When it comes to prayer, we have to be like children who nag their parents over and over again. We have to ask, and ask, and ask again. Eventually, if we ask enough, and our prayer is in our best interest, our Father in heaven will answer us.
Does this mean that God is like a pushover parent who gives in to whining and nagging?
Certainly not! It’s not that we get God to change his mind by our repetitive prayers. It’s that we change ourselves through our many prayers. We become closer to God and we learn to value what we pray for — be it health, peace, or sustenance more than we ever had. We change, and so God changes our situation.
If your prayers haven’t been answered yet, take heart. Pray, pray, and pray again. You never know — the next prayer you say may be the one that changes your life forever!
Is there anything you have stopped praying for? Today, pray for anything on your heart as if you are praying about it for the very first time — and then do it again as many times as necessary.