Praying without God

Ever wonder if you could pray even if you aren’t sure who you’re praying to? I brought up that idea a while ago and my friend sent me the most amazing quote from the book, “Seeing God” by Rabbi David Aaron. I am not sure if it’s legal for me to post the quote here… I wish I could because it is so touching but I’ll just summarize it instead.

An athiest Jew, Ron, went to the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He decided, what the hell, I’m here already, I may as well do something appropriate. He turned to the Orthodox man next to him and asked him what one does at the Kotel. The man gave Ron a tehilim (psalms) and said he could recite a chapter from the tehilim. Ron started and quickly hit the word “God.” He felt uncomfortable with that but decided to continue. Again he came across the word. Then it says (OK, fine, I’m putting in part of the quote here):

“Since Ron is a computer engineer, he decided to relate to his predicament as if it were a computer problem. When there is computer data that he can’t use, he creates a buffer zone and puts it there. Ron decided, I’ll put the “God” word in a mental buffer zone and simply disregard it so I can continue reading the psalms without getting aggravated. And that’s what he did. Ron then continued reading and suddenly felt overwhelmed by a flood of inspiration released by the moving poetic words of King David. He told me that he was struck by a profound spiritual experience, which he had never felt before. It was as if he were surrounded by light. This was the beginning of Ron’s belief in Hashem. Ony when he got rid of “God” was he able to see Hashem…”

God, I love this story. :) I have God issues and often feel a pang of discomfort whenever I give the word some thought. I pray (aka talk to Someone out there) but am never sure who I’m praying to nor if I believe 100% that this God-thing exists. What a cool idea, that he put it aside. It makes so much sense!

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4 thoughts on “Praying without God

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  1. What a beautiful thought. I think, that at the end of the day if God is truely listening on the other end, your prayer is going to carry a heck of a lot more weight than the rest because you chose to pray despite not fully believing.

  2. I just re-read “Franny and Zooey”, and it made me think of this post. In it, Franny has become obsessed with a book called “The Way of the Pilgrim”, in which a peasant makes a pilgrimage to find out what it means in the Bible when it says you’re supposed to pray without ceasing. He meets a monk who teaches him a prayer that he is supposed to repeat incessantly.

    When describing it, Franny says: “But the thing is, the marvelous thing is, when you first start doing it, you don’t even have to have faith in what you’re doing. I mean even if you’re terribly embarrassed about the whole thing, it’s perfectly all right. I mean you’re not insulting anybody or anything. In other words, nobody asks you to believe a single thing when you start out. You don’t even have to think about what you’re saying. All you have to have in the beginning is quantity. Then, later on, it becomes quality by itself. On its own power or something. He says that any name of God – any name at all – has this peculiar, self-active power of its own, and it starts working after you’ve sort of started it up.”

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