#BlogElul 18 – Pray
So the verb of the day is Pray. Appropriate for Shabbat, of course, as we spend a good part of the day in shul, conversing with the Almighty. We use words put together for us hundreds or even thousands of years ago, by people whose lives were immeasurably different from ours. Are their words of praise and supplication still appropriate for us?
Also, with Whom are we actually having the conversation? I can’t imagine there are too many adults who are talking to an old man with a white beard, in all seriousness. While I consider the Michaelangelo fresco to be one of the great works of humanity, it is not a depiction that many people take literally – talk of creating G-d in our own image!
It is certainly not a Jewish concept, given that Judaism is predicated on a completely non-corporeal deity, but I’m sure most Christians have moved beyond that childish imagining as well.
There are many of us who have some sense of a larger Universe, a purpose that encompasses our lives and gives them a larger meaning. Others scoff and declare it nothing but self-serving delusion, that we really are as ephemeral and pitiful as we seem to be.
I don’t know. I tend to agree with Pascal’s wager, to some extent. While I am not concerned about the Christian ideas of hell and salvation, I do find that my life is so much better if I live as though the Universe really cares about me.
I don’t see that any harm is done to anyone or anything if that assumption turns out to be factually untrue. Some of my friends will probably argue that a lifelong commitment to not eating bacon is worse than Dante’s Inferno, but we are going to have to disagree on that one.
So what do I mean by praying, given this context? Like many people, I find that the old melodies and beautiful, poetic words have value in and of themselves. It gives me pleasure and a sense of purpose to sing and speak them, even though I have no idea whether Anyone is listening on the other end of the line.
What do you think? Is prayer meaningful for you even if you are not sure to Whom you are speaking?