Crying, She Asked If God Hears The Prayer Of Jews
When Baptist minister Bailey Smith said, “God does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” the Jewish community was outraged.
While speaking on a college campus, a Jewish student approached me crying. A fellow student told her this anti-Semitic trope and said she would go to hell unless she accepts Jesus.
I told her that ignorance comes in many forms and reassured her that our bible teaches that God hears our prayers, and we don’t need an intermediary.
In this week’s Torah portion Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25), we are reminded that Moses “prayed to God, do not destroy Your people” (Deuteronomy 9:26) and God heeded Moses’ prayer.*
We discover an amazing insight into prayer when Daniel proclaims, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy” (Daniel 9:18).
God hears our prayers because God is merciful.
For 2,000 years, Jews prayed for the return to Israel, and in our lifetime, we witnessed the return of millions of Jews to their ancestral homeland.
There is no doubt that the Almighty hears our prayers. However, sometimes the answer takes time, sometimes it is immediate, and other times the answer is no.
The Jewish perspective is to approach God as a loving father who knows what is best for us.
Our responsibility is to live a moral life guided by God’s wisdom. Prayer reminds us that we are not in complete control, and real blessings come from a higher source beyond our own efforts.
May this Shabbat provide opportunities to pray from your heart and may you receive abundant blessing of health and happiness.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz
*Although Moses prayed on behalf of the Jews, he was not requesting for their sins be forgiven. Each person is responsible to repent for their own sins. As a member of the Jewish nation, Moses was able to request that the punishment allotted to the nation should be alleviated.
Significantly, even when someone prays for another individual, this is not to the exclusion of the individual being able to pray for themselves.
The power of individual prayer is exemplified in the words of King Solomon who said, “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they return to You and confess Your name, praying and pleading with You in this house, then may You hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel” (I Kings 8:33-34).
The most powerful example of the power of an individual’s prayer is found in 1 Samuel chapter 2, when Channah prays softly for a child and God answered her with the birth of Samuel. Channah’s silent prayer became the prototype for the most personal form of prayer to God.