Question on Prayer

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Rav Miller on Emunah and BitachonI received the following question [I’ve edited out personal information]:

QUESTION

I’ve just stumbled across your website and after reading it a bit decided to email…. I miscarried more times than I can recall, 20 plus is an average estimate, and while those years were the worst of my life I just remained focused on HaShem, much to the frustration of everyone around me. My faith has just steadily grown stronger…. With any decision making I need to do I always wonder what HaShem wants of me. I paid out possibly around $200k for fertility treatments but always said, I will work hard to pay for it, but ultimately it was up to HaShem if I had children and only He knew what was best for me.  Years later I began to wonder if my desire for children wasn’t great enough and/ or it was wrong handing it over to HaShem. Can you clarify that for me please?

RESPONSE

It would be presumptuous of me to tell you what Hashem wants from you. But we do know, as you said, that Hashem does know what’s best for us. That is certainly the correct sentiment. Beyond that, there can be lots of reasons why things happen or don’t happen, in this case why you have not been able to have children. Let me just throw out one general thought, which may or may not apply to your case.

Most people view prayer as a vehicle to some desire, or their heart’s desire. And that is indeed one important function of prayer, something that many people have yet to learn. However, there is also another way of looking at it: prayer is the goal and our heart’s desire is the vehicle. King David said, Ani tefillasi, “I am prayer.” He did not say, “I pray.” He said, “I am prayer.” He reached the exalted level of being in a constant state of prayer. Sometimes God doesn’t seem to answer our prayer because he wants us to pray harder, to unleash the full potential of our heart’s desire. But at other times he wants us to go even higher, and realize that prayer is an exalted state of being unto itself.

I cannot say which applies to you. But perhaps this might help you. Sometimes the lesson he wants us to learn is that we should not be attached to results, to serve him without the condition of expecting reward. That is not to say that there is no reward. But that we should detach from our expectations to such. There is reward. No prayer goes unanswered — even if it is not immediately answered in the way we thought it would be answered. Keep praying. Keep striving to learn more. Keep realizing God does always know what is best for us.

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One thought on “Question on Prayer

    Esther Chill said:
    April 14, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I am in the middle of reading Rav Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon. At first I was getting a tremendous amount of chizuk but then I came to the hishtadlus section and I am extremely disturbed by what was said regarding our control over our happiness. I would like a chance to speak to Rabbi aDaptor rAstor and share with him my story and tell him why comments like these that I had heard in the past have tremendously damaged me and caused me a great deal of emotional suffering.

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