a flight-plan for prayer

Back when I was dating my now-wife, a year and a half ago, more or less, I would have a daily freak-out. Every day I couldn't bring myself to communicate with her for fear of discovering that she was no longer interested. (We hadn't been dating for more than a couple of weeks at the time) When I finally did hear her voice over the phone, I could tell by her tone that everything was fine, and when I hung up, I was in the clouds. But, making that first phone call was impossible. I would have rather died than have to make that call every day (just about) for the first few weeks.

The fact that I did make that call and that I'm now married to her, is in large part thanks to Eddie. Eddie was a friend of my roommate at the time, and happened to be crashing by us while all this was going down. If he hadn't been there yelling at me to call her and that she's waiting for me to call and wants me to call, I would never have summoned the courage to pick up the phone. Eddie coached and coaxed me from fright to flight on an almost daily basis. Sometimes I forget that and forget how much support others need during the crazy periods of time in serious dating.

In fact, I'm writing now because I've just realized how crucial coaching is in your relationship with God as well. We need mashpi'im, we need rabbonim, we need chevrutot. Otherwise, we have the anti-coach sitting there telling us "you aren't going to make any headway so why open the sefer? Look how big that sefer is, at the rate you're going you'll never get through it, I bet you don't even remember what you learned ten, even five, pages ago." Or "you missed minyan, you missed zman kriat shema, you missed zman tefillah, why are you going to go daven, God's not interested. Remember what you did yesterday? He certainly won't listen to anyone who did that, will he?" We need a coach, we need someone (it can even be ourselves--but that's an advanced level) who will tell us, "No. Go daven. Not because you feel guilty or because you should, but because God is waiting to hear from you, he wants you to daven as much as you want to.. He'll overlook whatever happened until now, he really wants to hear from you."

This morning was one of those mornings where I woke up late, then once I'm up so late, I start to wander around and do everything but daven. Why? Because I don't want to face davening by myself now, so long after I would have been done if I had gone to minyan. I don't have the energy to pray, to put in all the necesary effort--i'll just rush through it anyway whenever I do get around to praying, why should I subject myself and God to that. And afterwards, I'll just feel lame because of my pitiful davening anyways. I'll have rushed through everything.

Finally, close to 11am (i'm supposed to be at work by 8:30am, though we do have flexible hours) I started to pray.. and I'm like, wait this is great, I love praying, what was I pushing off? this is amazing. HaShem is right here waiting for me, what was I so worried about? slow down, take your time, who cares if you're late, it's God, and he's giving you some of his time. B'kitzur, it was a great davening, as it almost always is. (if I'm into it) So much of life is throwing off all the reasons not to do something, and doing it anyways. Because it's right. Because it's good. Because it's so important. So real.

Not everyone can just pray or knows how, there's so many misunderstandings, so many hurdles that we put up for ourselves. Everyone can just pray, but most people don't know they can. When you do learn to pray, it's hard to stop, but it's ok to stop too (we have to come down some time, ratz v'shav baby [and again] ). It can be like a drug, only better. But, like a drug, the ritual is soooo important. If you just jump straight to the main course, it cheapens the whole thing, you'll still get high, but you come down quicker and it's a less pervasive high. When you take the time and build to it, the high can keep you going all day--or at least till mincha, it becomes like a bird riding thermals, pure flight, day after day.

We can't get there though, unless we have a coach, someone to remind us that we like it so much, that it's so good for us, that God wants exactly that from us, and he's just as desperate as we are. As much as the calf wants to nurse, the sow wants the calf to nurse ever so much more.

[disclaimer: i've never used drugs, but not for lack of availability--if you think this disqualifies me from understanding them though, you apparently have never known a thing without experiencing it yourself--something that I have, often.]


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