The Power of Sincere Prayer

Yael Eckstein  |  August 18, 2023

Elderly woman clasping hands and looking up

Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.” — Numbers 16:15

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. These devotions focus on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers.

The Book of Numbers describes Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron. In the aftermath of this crisis, Moses requested of God, “Do not accept their offering.”

This prayer is strange on a number of levels. Why is this spiritual giant acting like a spiteful child, trying to get his Father to pick sides in a sibling rivalry? Moreover, if it is so clear that Moses and Aaron are righteous—while Korah and his followers are somewhere between misguided and evil—why would Moses need to ask God to refuse their offering? After all, God knows all and would surely act with justice.

The Power of Sincere Prayer

We find a similar situation during Temple times. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the innermost sanctuary and perform the most sacred service. Afterward, he would utter one final prayer: that God not listen to prayers of the travelers.

Much like today, when we may hope for sunny weather on our vacation, travelers used to pray that it would not rain while they were on the road. However, if God answered every traveler’s prayer, it would never rain. The High Priest needed to intervene for the sake of the crops.

But again, why would the High Priest think that God would answer these selfish prayers? According to the Jewish sages, these scenarios teach us about the power of sincere prayer. Even though the prayers of the rebels and the travelers may have stemmed from self-interest, their faith was genuine; they truly believed that God ran the world and their prayers mattered.

This deep faith gave their prayers a power so great that their prayers could only be thwarted by the likes of Moses and the High Priest.

Your Turn:

Like the rebels and the travelers, pray from a place of deep faith. Like Moses and the High Priest, pray for the sake of heaven and you will experience the power of sincere prayer.