More than a decade ago, I stood at the Western Wall and prayed. I prayed to God with all my heart for a child – a healthy, beautiful baby. Less than a year later, I returned to the very same place but this time with my eldest daughter in my arms, a huge smile on my face, and prayers of thanksgiving on my lips. My daughter’s name is Chana, Hannah, and like Hannah of the Bible, her essence is prayer.
This experience has always stayed with me. It reminds me of the power of prayer.
There are so many times in life when it can feel like we’ve reached a dead end. There are people who want to get married but they haven’t been able to find the right one. People who want to have children but they are still waiting. People who are sick and the doctors say that they can’t be healed. Here in Israel, we live from war to war with no end in sight to the constant attacks.
People of faith are able to get through all kinds of challenges because of prayer, and specifically, the knowledge that God hears our prayers.
I love watching my kids pray. They have complete trust that God is listening to every single word they say. They have no doubts that their prayers will be answered in one way or another.
As a child, I was taught to believe that God hears our prayers. One the most important life goals I have is to never grow up and grow out of that kind of prayer. Even as I encounter difficulties in life – problems that don’t go away after my first prayer or 100th prayer – I work to maintain the faith that God is listening. He hears me and He cares. Often, I know this in my head, but it’s so much harder to feel it in my heart.
The Talmud, Judaism’s oral tradition, teaches that: “Prayer is one of the highest deeds in the world, but people underestimate it.” In other words, praying to God is one of the most powerful things that we can do in order to influence our lives and the world around us. But we don’t always feel that way. When we truly and deeply know that God is right here, next to us, with us, listening to every word, we take every opportunity to pray. It is our response to every situation. And we never give up on our prayers.
The doctor isn’t God. The bank statement isn’t God. The naysayers aren’t God. Only God is God, and He can turn anything around. When we pray with that kind of trust and faith, our prayers are extremely powerful.
Just as there are powerful ways to pray, there are powerful places to pray. The Temple Mount is the only place in the world of which God said: “My eyes and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). As my father, Rabbi Eckstein, says, “Praying from anywhere in the world is like making a long-distance call, but praying at the Western Wall is like having a direct line.”
It is our honor to take your prayers to the Western Wall this month during our Prayer at the Wall campaign. We know God is listening. We know that He cares. Together in prayer, we can move mountains and reach the heavens.
May God hear all of our prayers and answer them for the very best. Amen!