The Power to Transform Lives

Yael Eckstein  |  August 4, 2023

Two men praying at the Western Wall-14742834
(Photo: Guy Yechiely)

They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us…” — 1 Samuel 7:8

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.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, traditionally spent in fasting and prayer. One year, I spent the day at home with my baby. As the hours crawled on, I grew restless. I longed to be alongside the worshippers in synagogue, but I also didn’t want to feel resentful or ungrateful.

So I decided to transform every mundane moment into a potential for prayer. With each diaper change, I thanked God for the health of my family. With each cry, I called out to God to end the suffering in the world. As I prepared snacks for my child, I expressed gratitude for sustenance. It was a way that I could be in continual contact with God and with others lifting up their own prayers.

The Power to Transform Lives

Imbuing our day with prayer is not specific to Yom Kippur, nor to young mothers. While there are mentions of spontaneous prayer in the Bible, most ancient worship centered around sacrifices. When the Temple was destroyed, the rabbis had to devise a new way to maintain the relationship between God and man, substituting the three daily sacrificial offerings with three daily prayer services. From there, they mandated many more prayers and blessings throughout the day.

Did you know that observant Jews utter more than 100 prayers each day? We speak to God all day long, including three daily prayer services, blessings before and after eating, after going to the bathroom, after hearing thunder, when seeing a particularly beautiful or strange-looking person, upon receiving good or bad news, when wearing a new article of clothing, and more.

However, with all that obligation, it is easy to say the repetitive words by rote, forgetting that prayer gives us the power to transform every moment of our lives into a holy experience. When the people cried out to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the LORD,” and when the apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” (Thessalonians 5:17), they were also telling us that our lives, too, can be a never-ending stream of communication with God.

Your Turn:

Imbue your day with prayer, thanking God for all the blessings in your day-to-day life.

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