Tag: Prayer

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See the two standards, their standard bearers, and the followers of each standard. First, look to the prominent place where the devil (the adversary) is, and see his followers. His followers possess good health, the pleasure of society, the praise of others, wealth, even fun!  Then look to the lowly place where Jesus is and […]

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A Moment in Time: My First Orthodox Jewish Wedding

 

It was a heart-filling experience, one that will become an indelible memory in my budding Jewish experience. I attended the wedding of iWe and Mrs. iWe’s son #2 and his bride.

I was a bit nervous about attending, fighting off a low-level anxiety about potentially “doing the wrong thing.” A few days before the wedding, however, I realized how silly and self-centered my concerns were. I was not attending this blessed occasion to make some kind of impression on those who were there; I was attending to contribute joy (simcha), offer blessings and goodwill with everyone else for the bride and groom. Holding that wish in my heart was the only mission I needed, and the one that guided me through the day.

What Prayers Do You Offer When Catastrophe Looms?

 

This morning, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my many friends in Florida. Off the top of my head (and forgive me if I’ve left you out), I can identify @frontseatcatt, @formerlawprof, @jamesgawron, @samuelblock, @cm, @bossmongo, @eb, @theotherdiane, @kevincreighton, @barkhaherman, and I know there are many others. Feel free to use this post to let us know where you are.

Due to the impending hurricane, I’m inclined to pray for all of these folks, for those who have already been hit in the islands, and for those who may be hit outside of Florida. But I realized that prayer is an odd thing: outside of the written prayers, just what can or should I pray for?

I tend to pray for the safety and well-being of those who could be affected. I don’t pray for the storm to move away from us; I believe that G-d rarely interferes with nature, and I don’t know if he chooses to act on hurricanes. I also realize the storm may miss us altogether. But assuming it arrives here, I think prayer is helpful in many ways.

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Can one know God?  Can one experience God?  Saint Gregory Palamas, an ascetic monk, priest, and later Archbishop of Thessalonica asked these very questions.  His answers, based on centuries of understanding and experience, became the foundation of the final major dogmatic development in Orthodox Theology.  For this, St. Gregory is commemorated on the second Sunday […]

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What Does It Mean to Pray for Others?

 

Over the last few years, many of us have expressed our desire to pray for others who have been the victims of savagery, storms, illness and other kinds of suffering. There are times when we can do other things—make donations, help make repairs, offer words of comfort. It occurred to me, though, how much I rely on praying for others as a way to not only offer solace to them, but as a way to relate to G-d and comfort myself. And yet at one time, I didn’t know what praying for others meant.

I grew up in a barely Jewish family that didn’t speak of prayer or of G-d. We did attend High Holiday Services and decorated for Chanukah. I was even sent to Hebrew and Sunday schools. But even there I don’t remember talking about prayer. At services, of course, there were many prayers to recite; when I returned to Judaism, I was amazed at the number of prayers I remembered just from my exposure to them as a child at synagogue. But they were simply verses I recited, rather than my relating to them in a spiritual way.

New Book by a Better Guerra

 

I’m going to take a moment to brag on my wife, Shannon Guerra. She just released her second book, Oh My Soul: Encountering God in Honest Unconventional (and Sometimes Messy) Prayer, and it’s doing much better than my book. Of course, she is a much better writer, and she’s been doing it longer. The title says it all, but let me also add that it’s ridiculously funny, while being deeply insightful. I’m incredibly proud of my girl.

An excerpt to prove I do show up in her writing once in a while:

One kid is napping and five kids are out with Vince on a quick errand to get coffee and a new toilet seat (lest you were under the impression that life here is glamorous). He’s getting coffee because something went horribly wrong with our coffee maker on this morning, leaving the coffee ruined and putrid. And I guess you could say the same thing about the toilet seat, but I digress.

Multi-Sensory Prayers, Witchcraft, and the Mirror of Protection

 

I see another story about witches acting against the Trump Administration today, specifically planning to “hex” Brett Kavanaugh publicly on October 20. There have been several other such stories since Trump got elected in November of 2016. I would like to suggest doing a bit of counter-magic, although I would use a very different term for it: prayer.

Ricochet is an interesting place. We have many religious folks. We have many hard-headed atheists and some agnostics, many of whom are engineers. We also have others who have had a wide range of experiences. One of our members was once a 900-number telephone psychic, for instance. I’m not sure how many here have ever studied any forms of traditional magic beyond the “I read Harry Potter” level. Trying to explain why this is important in a way or ways that make sense for everyone on Ricochet, across our vast array of backgrounds and knowledge sets, is not easy, but I’m going to give it a go.

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Things look pretty good when you’re up 34-7. A point differential that wide means you’ve been thoroughly dominating your opponent. When you find yourself in that satisfying place, there are a couple of strategies that can follow. One strategy is to pump the brakes. This is not a bad strategy. Sometimes the vast success means […]

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There are many things that form the mountains in our lives; grief, worry, fear, desolation, disease, pain and anger are just a few of these things. Sometimes we stand at the base of the mountain before us and feel the anguish of defeat, because the mountain stands in the way of our purpose. Some would […]

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The Power of Words

 

No one knew much about Herschel. He was a shabby older man with long untidy grey hair and beard, who always carried a stout pole and walked with a pronounced limp. He lived in one of the cheap hotels somewhere downtown, and he would come to the House of Love and Prayer whenever Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was around. Most people found him rather annoying, but he was accepted as yet another of our eccentrics.

Sometime in the 1970s, American television showed a film made by an Israeli kibbutznik about the longing for peace after the Yom Kippur War. The opening shot was of a Jewish festival in Golden Gate Park, and there, as that scene closed, was Herschel, in an old Army jacket with a shoulder patch of Israeli and American flags, dancing in a kind of awkward stomp.

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What is the use of formal prayers? Why not just tell God whatever happens to be on your mind? Resumes provide some answers to those questions.  Imagine applying for a job instead by writing an impromptu letter. Hey, it could work. I landed more than one job by conversation with managers before a single form was […]

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This is a difficult post for me to write, so please be patient with me. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I must ask for your prayers and help. For those who read my post, What it Means to Be a Caretaker, you know I gave my time and efforts to taking care of […]

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“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV) Today I write to encourage all who read this pray for: […]

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The village I grew up in had a population of about 850 (not including livestock). It was a peaceful little place, nestled next to mountains, and far away from the hustle and bustle of any city. In winter, I played outside in the snow; in summer, I played outside on the lawn (or in the […]

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When the Divine Intervenes

 

Let me say a bit about my relationship with G-d. I’m not a mystic, nor do I have out-of-body experiences. In terms of Orthodox Judaism, I am not a disciplined practitioner. I don’t have “conversations” with G-d, and I don’t formally pray to Him very often. But over the years, I’ve learned—I’ve experienced—that He is present in my life.

In this post, I won’t talk about G-d’s intervention or lack of involvement in the greater world. I don’t have answers for when He does intervene directly, nor do I know why. In fact, I think it is the height of absurdity for us to try to figure out the mind of G-d, except to know what He expects from us. I assume that His actions, motives, and goals are beyond my ken, and I think I have more sensible things to try to learn and understand in this lifetime.

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Every time tragedy hits, whether it is a mass shooting, terrorist attack, natural disaster or some other event, there is an outpouring of thoughts and prayers from those who believe in God. Inevitably, these well-meaning souls are chastised and ridiculed by multitudes of unbelievers. Some of the comments made by the skeptics are benign, but […]

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Seasonal Thoughts

 

This time of year seems to bring out joy, wonder, sadness, mourning, inspiration, and anticipation more than any other. I have been reflecting over the recent 12 months as a new year approaches – a time of endings and new beginnings.

Among all the lights, festivities, and holiday preparation, I got a phone call that my cousin passed away. She was almost 16 years older than me, but a part of my growing years. She taught me to twist, was glamorous, my big tall older cousin with the big smile and ready laugh. We kept in touch on occasion – my last email from her after the Las Vegas massacre was “We’re fine – we weren’t near the Strip — you can’t go anywhere and feel safe anymore — it’s awful!!” Her sister tearfully called me, saying she was in the middle of life, groceries still on the counter. This time of year can be tough.

I remember a vivid thought that popped into my head unexpectedly, as I was shocked to read of a former co-worker’s passing in the paper and then started to dwell (too long) on thoughts of mortality…. The thought was “Life is for the living.” It was like God was whispering in my ear. I said it over and over. I was immediately reminded of Solomon – the wisest man who lost and gained everything. He said there was a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time for joy in Ecclesiastes 3. I read its timeless message and prayed for my cousin. I needn’t worry. God holds her in the palm of His hand.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the courage and heroism of the Texas man who exchanged gunfire with the Texas church murderer and the driver who happened upon the scene and chased the killer at high speeds to make sure no one else was harmed.  They also shake their heads at the instant gun control demands coming in the wake of yet another massacre, when the murderer should already have been ineligible to own firearms.  And they react to the increasingly common refrain from the political left for people of faith to stop praying in response to such carnage and “do something” instead.