Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration [NOOK Book]

Overview

After the publication of her best-selling book To Begin Again, Naomi Levy received a flood of feedback from readers telling her how much the prayers in it had helped and moved them. Many urged her to publish a collection of her prayers—and now she has.

In a time when we all need inspiration, comfort, and connection, Talking to God will help us reclaim prayer as an integral part of our lives, making it as natural and uninhibited as talking to ...
See more details below
Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price

Overview

After the publication of her best-selling book To Begin Again, Naomi Levy received a flood of feedback from readers telling her how much the prayers in it had helped and moved them. Many urged her to publish a collection of her prayers—and now she has.

In a time when we all need inspiration, comfort, and connection, Talking to God will help us reclaim prayer as an integral part of our lives, making it as natural and uninhibited as talking to our loved ones. Prayer is essential to the lives of millions, but many of us are searching for ways to supplement traditional prayers with ones that are less formal and more intimate.

Written in a simple and direct style, the prayers in this book—and the wonderful stories that accompany them—are for people of all faiths, and for all occasions large and small. Naomi Levy’s personal prayers address the anxieties and roadblocks we all face in contemporary life. There are prayers for facing a new day, realizing one’s potential at work, celebrating an anniversary or birthday, and going to sleep at night. And there are prayers for the more profound occurrences in life—love and marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, illness, loss, and death.

Rabbi Levy’s words, imbued with grace and empathy, touch on the entire range of human experience. Many of us will recognize ourselves in her prayers and stories and will be comforted by them, as well as challenged and uplifted. Perhaps most important, they are stepping-stones for us to go on and create our own prayers, to find meaning in our own lives, and to begin or renew our own relationships with God.


From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Levy, one of the first female Conservative rabbis in the United States, offers perceptive prayers, personal stories, and some powerful thoughts on the efficacy of prayer in this heartfelt book. Remarkably, it is more directed toward blessing others than praying for oneself: in a particularly moving section, Levy encourages people to place their hands on their children's and parents' heads and pronounce blessings upon them. Although Levy draws primarily from Jewish traditions, these prayers will be welcomed by people of many faiths; in particular, those who are grieving will cherish Levy's lucid understanding of the depth of pain. This is not a simplistic, sound-bite prayer book, but a carefully considered manual for inviting God into every possible situation. (Aug. 25) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Those of us who have been deeply moved by Naomi Levy's book, To Begin Again, will welcome her new book, Talking to God . The beautiful, simple, and direct prayers she offers here will enrich the spiritual practices of persons of all faith traditions."
-Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary

"Talking to God is a beautiful and heartfelt collection of prayers. It's filled with wisdom, compassion and plenty of insight. I loved every page and will refer to it often."
-Richard Carlson, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff... and It's All Small Stuff

"The author challenges us to partner with God by doing all we can to answer our own prayers... Talking to God involves a lecture to self, then a prayer beyond self to One who calls you out of self."
-Rev. Cecil L. Murray, Senior Minister, First A.M.E. Church

"I hope that all the people who feel detached from God because they cannot pray will read Naomi Levy's book and learn to re-connect."
-Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307423856
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 590,703
  • File size: 477 KB

Meet the Author

Naomi Levy, author of To Begin Again, was in the first class of women admitted to study for the rabbinate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and was the first female Conservative rabbi to lead a congregation on the West Coast. She lives in Venice, California, with her husband, Robert Eshman, and their children, Adin and Noa.


From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

One
Daily Prayer

Daily prayer is the hardest form of prayer. It's natural to turn to God when things go wrong-when you are in pain or when you are frightened or depressed. It's easy to turn to God in times of joy-at a birth or a wedding, or on a holiday. But making the commitment to open your heart up to God every single day is quite a challenge. There are days when we feel moved, and there are days when we feel nothing. All too often, daily prayer seems like a tedious burden. We want our experiences of prayer to be inspirational, exceptional, but daily prayer is rooted in the unspectacular routine of our lives. Most of us see nothing awe inspiring about getting out of bed in the morning, or grabbing a bite to eat, or nodding off to sleep at night. But we couldn't be more mistaken.

Sometimes it takes an illness to remind us how wondrous it is wake up healthy, to be able to get out of bed and eat and work. Suddenly, the mundane routines we had taken for granted seem precious. We find ourselves giving thanks for small miracles that we never even noticed before. The first meal after surgery. The first step on our own. The first breath of fresh air. The first night at home in our own bed. Of course, we shouldn't have to suffer an illness in order to be grateful for all the ways God blesses us. Daily prayer is a far more pleasant way to achieve the same goal. Taking the time to pray heightens our awareness of God's presence in our lives. It reminds us that God is constantly calling out to us.

One of my favorite quotes from the Jewish mystical teachings is this: "Every blade of grass has an angel that hovers over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" God is here. God is watching over us and hoping for us. God is waiting for us to notice the beauty in every breath we take, the potential in every encounter, the extraordinary possibilities of every ordinary day.

Once, a young man whose wife died in a car accident came to speak to me. He had a strong and burly build, but his eyes were soft and sad. He told me that he couldn't pray now, when he needed God most, because he felt like a hypocrite. He had never prayed before, and he didn't think he had the right to start a relationship with God when he had no history with God. I said to him, "God is already in a relationship with you. You don't need to introduce yourself. God already knows you and already loves you. God suffers with you and is longing to hear your voice."

We are in a relationship with God every day whether we notice it or not. God is waiting for our response.

Morning

When we wake up in the morning, we remember to prepare our bodies for the day ahead of us. We wash, we dress, we eat. Would you ever think of leaving the house without brushing your teeth? And yet we rarely take the time to prepare our souls for the day ahead of us. It doesn't need to take very long. Just a minute or two each morning. But a simple morning prayer can literally transform the way we think, feel, behave, and work. A morning prayer helps to remind us how blessed we are-even on those days when you sleep through the alarm, when the coffee spills on your lap, when the toast burns, when the kids are whining, when nothing seems to be going right. Even brief prayer can give us the courage to confront a difficult day, and it can give us the insight to recognize a miraculous one.

Before you race out the door take a moment. Take a deep breath in, let a deep breath out, and talk to God. Tell God your hopes for the new day and your worries too. And don't forget to notice something to be thankful for this day.

A Morning Prayer

There are so many things I take for granted. May I not ignore them today.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember that my life is a gift, that my health is a blessing, that this new day is filled with awesome potential, that I have the capacity to bring something wholly new and unique and good into this world.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember to be kind and patient to the people who love me, and to those who work with me too. Teach me to see all the beauty that I so often ignore, and to listen to the silent longing of my own soul.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember You.

Let this be a good day, God, full of joy and love. Amen.

A Prayer for the Body

Thank You, God, for the body You have given me. Most of the time I take my health for granted. I forget how fortunate I am to live without pain or disability, how blessed I am to be able to see and hear and walk and eat. I forget that this body of mine, with all its imperfections, is a gift from You.

When I am critical of my appearance, remind me, God, that I am created in Your holy image. If I become jealous of someone else's appearance, teach me to treasure my unique form.

Help me, God, to care for my body. Teach me to refrain from any action that will bring harm to me. If I fall prey to a self-destructive habit, fill me with the strength to conquer my cravings.

Lead me to use my body wisely, God. Guide my every limb, God, to perform acts of compassion and kindness.

I thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.

Food on Our Table

Last winter I went to see an exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings that has been traveling around the country. One painting made a lasting impression on me. The setting is a bustling diner at lunchtime. The scene is so vivid that you can almost hear the chatter and smell the scents of eggs, burgers, and coffee wafting through the air. On one side of a crowded table a Mennonite mother sits beside her young son. Their heads are bowed in silent prayer. This private moment of devotion creates calm in the midst of the clamor. All eyes in the room are fixed on them. The expression on the bystanders' faces is a combination of curiosity and awe. It moved me.

We have the capacity to change the pace and tone of our lives in an instant. We can gobble down our food without even paying attention to what we are eating, or we can take a moment and stop.

Before you eat, take the time to breathe deeply. Look at the food in front of you. Appreciate it. Remember to thank the person who took the time to prepare this food for you. And thank God for the blessed meal before you.

Thanks to the cook

When my husband was courting me, he used to walk me home from synagogue on Saturdays. One day I invited him in. We sat talking for hours sipping tea, and it never occurred to me to offer him something to eat-I didn't know how to cook. At one point I got up to use the bathroom, and he used the occasion to hunt through my cupboards. He was starving. But all he found was a bag of stale potato chips and two cans of tuna. When I returned from the bathroom, I found him looking around my barren kitchen. He picked up a tuna can and asked, "Do you eat it out of the can like a cat?" "Well, yes," I admitted. That night Rob brought me to his apartment and cooked me a magnificent meal. The rest is history. Although every now and then for nostalgia's sake, he opens up a can of tuna and calls, "Here, kitty, kitty."

A Blessing over Food

Thank You, God, for the food on my table and for the cook who, like You, knows the secrets of creation. Thank You for plants, animals, and water, and for my own life, which You nourish and sustain each day. Please, God, answer the prayers of all those who turn to You in need. May all who are hungry be blessed with food. May I never be indifferent to the cries of those in need of my assistance. May I never take my good fortune for granted. Thank You, God, Creator of all. Amen.

Difficult Days

It was a Monday morning. I knew in advance it was going to be a painful day. A member of my congregation was dying. I had been up all night with my one-month-old daughter, Noa, who was doing her best to turn colic into an art form. My two-year-old son, Adi, was busy taking fistfuls of mud from the ficus tree in our living room and dumping them onto the floor. This was our second day in our new home. I had a sinus infection and an ear infection. A friend of mine volunteered to watch my children so that I could visit Marty.

I drove to the hospital, made my way to Marty's room, and saw him lying there ashen and unconscious. His nurse took me aside and told me that he probably would not make it through the night. I thanked her for her honesty. Marty was only fifty. Six months before I had taken a walk with him on the boardwalk that runs along Venice Beach. I had trouble keeping up with his pace. He exercised daily, ate well, had a perpetual suntan, and was forever making fun of my pale, or, as he put it, green, complexion. "You need to get your face out of the Talmud and into the sun, Rabbi." I stood beside Marty and recited the final confessional. Then I blessed him and bade him farewell.

I took the elevator to the lobby, headed back to the parking garage, got into my car, and started driving in a total daze. My mind was on Marty, not the road. I accidentally drove my car onto a cement island that separated the lanes in the parking lot. Embarrassed and shaken, I tried to drive off the island, but my car wouldn't budge. People behind me were honking and shouting. Finally, two men got out of their cars and pushed my car off the island as I steered.

Before returning home I decided to drive back to our old apartment to check if we had left anything behind in the haste of packing. When I got there, I saw that the door was ajar. The painters were there repainting the whole place. I told them that I was the old tenant; they nodded at me. I suddenly realized that I had returned to say goodbye. I bid farewell to my son's lavender bedroom that we had painted ourselves, and to the little yard where we had kept three chickens. I stepped back inside to take a final look out the living room window, which had a spectacular view of the ocean, and I noticed something on the floor.

The painters had spread drop cloths all over the place, so at first I thought that I must be mistaken. But when I got closer I recognized it. One of the painters was standing on my tallis, my prayer shawl. It was the prayer shawl my dean had presented to me and draped over my shoulders on the day I became a rabbi. I asked the painter to step off the cloth, then I picked it up and walked out the door. It was spattered with paint. I sat down on the front step, draped my tallis across my lap, and, in honor of Marty, I turned my face to the sun. The warm light felt good against my wet cheeks.

A Prayer for Bad Days

Be with me, God. I feel so lost. I can't seem to escape the dark cloud that is hanging over me today. Help me, God. Give me strength to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain into perspective. Teach me to have faith in the new day that is coming.

Thank You, God, for today's blessings, for tomorrow's hope, and for Your abiding love. Amen.

A Prayer for Those Days When Life Spins Out of Control

When I panic, God, teach me patience.

When I fear, teach me faith.

When I doubt myself, teach me confidence.

When I despair, teach me hope.

When I lose perspective, show me the way-

back to love, back to life, back to You. Amen.

Seeking the Ability to Pray

Having the desire to pray doesn't necessarily lead to prayer. There are numerous obstacles that prevent us from speaking to God. Distractions from outside combine with resistance from inside, and it is no wonder that prayer rarely comes easily. What helps? Make time for daily reflection. Don't feel inhibited by your lack of eloquence. If no great thought enters your heart, just remember to give thanks for something each day. Don't allow guilt or shame to cause you to hide from God. Search for sources of inspiration-the beauty of nature, the love of your family, your health, your hopes for this world. If no words rise up from you, say a prayer for the ability to pray.

A Prayer for the Ability to Pray

Dear God, as I pray, day after unpredictable day,

May the voice of my soul spring forth from my lips.

May I turn to You, God, in tears, in laughter, and in song.

And may my prayers be answered. Amen.

A Prayer for Daily Insight

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don't have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.

Mentors in Unlikely Places

A couple of years ago when we were doing some construction on our home, my husband and I and our two children moved in with his parents. My mother-in-law had just bought a beautiful downy white couch. As you can imagine, they weren't eager for my children to jump on this highly stainable piece of new furniture, and I did my best to keep the kids out of the living room.

The inevitable occurred when my in-laws were gone for the weekend. My son, in search of a napkin, found the nice white couch and proceeded to wipe his hands full of peanut butter and jelly on it. The minute I saw the golden streak across the sofa cushion I started to panic. I called friend after friend asking for advice on how to remove the stain. Soda water was the most common response. Some recommended Shout. Luckily it was a slipcover, and my friend Jane recommended a very reputable dry cleaner. Needless to say, the next morning I arrived at the dry cleaner's at six and waited for him to open the store. He welcomed me in, and I proceeded to tell him the tale of the brand-new white couch with the peanut butter smeared on it and how my in-laws were returning the following day and how I needed his help. The man held the slipcover in his hands, examined it, and said, "It's my experience that the best way to handle a situation like this is honesty. After all, what if I clean the cover and it comes out a different shade of white from the rest of the couch? That would make things much worse. I think you should calmly sit down with your mother-in-law and just explain what happened." When he handed me back the slipcover, I looked at him and said, "You're not a dry cleaner, you're a rabbi!"

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

One
Daily Prayer

Daily prayer is the hardest form of prayer. It's natural to turn to God when things go wrong-when you are in pain or when you are frightened or depressed. It's easy to turn to God in times of joy-at a birth or a wedding, or on a holiday. But making the commitment to open your heart up to God every single day is quite a challenge. There are days when we feel moved, and there are days when we feel nothing. All too often, daily prayer seems like a tedious burden. We want our experiences of prayer to be inspirational, exceptional, but daily prayer is rooted in the unspectacular routine of our lives. Most of us see nothing awe inspiring about getting out of bed in the morning, or grabbing a bite to eat, or nodding off to sleep at night. But we couldn't be more mistaken.

Sometimes it takes an illness to remind us how wondrous it is wake up healthy, to be able to get out of bed and eat and work. Suddenly, the mundane routines we had taken for granted seem precious. We find ourselves giving thanks for small miracles that we never even noticed before. The first meal after surgery. The first step on our own. The first breath of fresh air. The first night at home in our own bed. Of course, we shouldn't have to suffer an illness in order to be grateful for all the ways God blesses us. Daily prayer is a far more pleasant way to achieve the same goal. Taking the time to pray heightens our awareness of God's presence in our lives. It reminds us that God is constantly calling out to us.

One of my favorite quotes from the Jewish mystical teachings is this: "Every blade of grass has an angel that hovers over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" God is here. God is watching over us and hoping for us. God is waiting for us to notice the beauty in every breath we take, the potential in every encounter, the extraordinary possibilities of every ordinary day.

Once, a young man whose wife died in a car accident came to speak to me. He had a strong and burly build, but his eyes were soft and sad. He told me that he couldn't pray now, when he needed God most, because he felt like a hypocrite. He had never prayed before, and he didn't think he had the right to start a relationship with God when he had no history with God. I said to him, "God is already in a relationship with you. You don't need to introduce yourself. God already knows you and already loves you. God suffers with you and is longing to hear your voice."

We are in a relationship with God every day whether we notice it or not. God is waiting for our response.


Morning

When we wake up in the morning, we remember to prepare our bodies for the day ahead of us. We wash, we dress, we eat. Would you ever think of leaving the house without brushing your teeth? And yet we rarely take the time to prepare our souls for the day ahead of us. It doesn't need to take very long. Just a minute or two each morning. But a simple morning prayer can literally transform the way we think, feel, behave, and work. A morning prayer helps to remind us how blessed we are-even on those days when you sleep through the alarm, when the coffee spills on your lap, when the toast burns, when the kids are whining, when nothing seems to be going right. Even brief prayer can give us the courage to confront a difficult day, and it can give us the insight to recognize a miraculous one.

Before you race out the door take a moment. Take a deep breath in, let a deep breath out, and talk to God. Tell God your hopes for the new day and your worries too. And don't forget to notice something to be thankful for this day.

A Morning Prayer

There are so many things I take for granted. May I not ignore them today.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember that my life is a gift, that my health is a blessing, that this new day is filled with awesome potential, that I have the capacity to bring something wholly new and unique and good into this world.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember to be kind and patient to the people who love me, and to those who work with me too. Teach me to see all the beauty that I so often ignore, and to listen to the silent longing of my own soul.

Just for today, help me, God, to remember You.

Let this be a good day, God, full of joy and love. Amen.


A Prayer for the Body

Thank You, God, for the body You have given me. Most of the time I take my health for granted. I forget how fortunate I am to live without pain or disability, how blessed I am to be able to see and hear and walk and eat. I forget that this body of mine, with all its imperfections, is a gift from You.

When I am critical of my appearance, remind me, God, that I am created in Your holy image. If I become jealous of someone else's appearance, teach me to treasure my unique form.

Help me, God, to care for my body. Teach me to refrain from any action that will bring harm to me. If I fall prey to a self-destructive habit, fill me with the strength to conquer my cravings.

Lead me to use my body wisely, God. Guide my every limb, God, to perform acts of compassion and kindness.

I thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.


Food on Our Table

Last winter I went to see an exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings that has been traveling around the country. One painting made a lasting impression on me. The setting is a bustling diner at lunchtime. The scene is so vivid that you can almost hear the chatter and smell the scents of eggs, burgers, and coffee wafting through the air. On one side of a crowded table a Mennonite mother sits beside her young son. Their heads are bowed in silent prayer. This private moment of devotion creates calm in the midst of the clamor. All eyes in the room are fixed on them. The expression on the bystanders' faces is a combination of curiosity and awe. It moved me.

We have the capacity to change the pace and tone of our lives in an instant. We can gobble down our food without even paying attention to what we are eating, or we can take a moment and stop.

Before you eat, take the time to breathe deeply. Look at the food in front of you. Appreciate it. Remember to thank the person who took the time to prepare this food for you. And thank God for the blessed meal before you.

Thanks to the cook

When my husband was courting me, he used to walk me home from synagogue on Saturdays. One day I invited him in. We sat talking for hours sipping tea, and it never occurred to me to offer him something to eat-I didn't know how to cook. At one point I got up to use the bathroom, and he used the occasion to hunt through my cupboards. He was starving. But all he found was a bag of stale potato chips and two cans of tuna. When I returned from the bathroom, I found him looking around my barren kitchen. He picked up a tuna can and asked, "Do you eat it out of the can like a cat?" "Well, yes," I admitted. That night Rob brought me to his apartment and cooked me a magnificent meal. The rest is history. Although every now and then for nostalgia's sake, he opens up a can of tuna and calls, "Here, kitty, kitty."

A Blessing over Food

Thank You, God, for the food on my table and for the cook who, like You, knows the secrets of creation. Thank You for plants, animals, and water, and for my own life, which You nourish and sustain each day. Please, God, answer the prayers of all those who turn to You in need. May all who are hungry be blessed with food. May I never be indifferent to the cries of those in need of my assistance. May I never take my good fortune for granted. Thank You, God, Creator of all. Amen.


Difficult Days

It was a Monday morning. I knew in advance it was going to be a painful day. A member of my congregation was dying. I had been up all night with my one-month-old daughter, Noa, who was doing her best to turn colic into an art form. My two-year-old son, Adi, was busy taking fistfuls of mud from the ficus tree in our living room and dumping them onto the floor. This was our second day in our new home. I had a sinus infection and an ear infection. A friend of mine volunteered to watch my children so that I could visit Marty.

I drove to the hospital, made my way to Marty's room, and saw him lying there ashen and unconscious. His nurse took me aside and told me that he probably would not make it through the night. I thanked her for her honesty. Marty was only fifty. Six months before I had taken a walk with him on the boardwalk that runs along Venice Beach. I had trouble keeping up with his pace. He exercised daily, ate well, had a perpetual suntan, and was forever making fun of my pale, or, as he put it, green, complexion. "You need to get your face out of the Talmud and into the sun, Rabbi." I stood beside Marty and recited the final confessional. Then I blessed him and bade him farewell.

I took the elevator to the lobby, headed back to the parking garage, got into my car, and started driving in a total daze. My mind was on Marty, not the road. I accidentally drove my car onto a cement island that separated the lanes in the parking lot. Embarrassed and shaken, I tried to drive off the island, but my car wouldn't budge. People behind me were honking and shouting. Finally, two men got out of their cars and pushed my car off the island as I steered.

Before returning home I decided to drive back to our old apartment to check if we had left anything behind in the haste of packing. When I got there, I saw that the door was ajar. The painters were there repainting the whole place. I told them that I was the old tenant; they nodded at me. I suddenly realized that I had returned to say goodbye. I bid farewell to my son's lavender bedroom that we had painted ourselves, and to the little yard where we had kept three chickens. I stepped back inside to take a final look out the living room window, which had a spectacular view of the ocean, and I noticed something on the floor.

The painters had spread drop cloths all over the place, so at first I thought that I must be mistaken. But when I got closer I recognized it. One of the painters was standing on my tallis, my prayer shawl. It was the prayer shawl my dean had presented to me and draped over my shoulders on the day I became a rabbi. I asked the painter to step off the cloth, then I picked it up and walked out the door. It was spattered with paint. I sat down on the front step, draped my tallis across my lap, and, in honor of Marty, I turned my face to the sun. The warm light felt good against my wet cheeks.

A Prayer for Bad Days

Be with me, God. I feel so lost. I can't seem to escape the dark cloud that is hanging over me today. Help me, God. Give me strength to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain into perspective. Teach me to have faith in the new day that is coming.

Thank You, God, for today's blessings, for tomorrow's hope, and for Your abiding love. Amen.


A Prayer for Those Days When Life Spins Out of Control

When I panic, God, teach me patience.

When I fear, teach me faith.

When I doubt myself, teach me confidence.

When I despair, teach me hope.

When I lose perspective, show me the way-

back to love, back to life, back to You. Amen.


Seeking the Ability to Pray

Having the desire to pray doesn't necessarily lead to prayer. There are numerous obstacles that prevent us from speaking to God. Distractions from outside combine with resistance from inside, and it is no wonder that prayer rarely comes easily. What helps? Make time for daily reflection. Don't feel inhibited by your lack of eloquence. If no great thought enters your heart, just remember to give thanks for something each day. Don't allow guilt or shame to cause you to hide from God. Search for sources of inspiration-the beauty of nature, the love of your family, your health, your hopes for this world. If no words rise up from you, say a prayer for the ability to pray.

A Prayer for the Ability to Pray

Dear God, as I pray, day after unpredictable day,

May the voice of my soul spring forth from my lips.

May I turn to You, God, in tears, in laughter, and in song.

And may my prayers be answered. Amen.


A Prayer for Daily Insight

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don't have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.


Mentors in Unlikely Places

A couple of years ago when we were doing some construction on our home, my husband and I and our two children moved in with his parents. My mother-in-law had just bought a beautiful downy white couch. As you can imagine, they weren't eager for my children to jump on this highly stainable piece of new furniture, and I did my best to keep the kids out of the living room.

The inevitable occurred when my in-laws were gone for the weekend. My son, in search of a napkin, found the nice white couch and proceeded to wipe his hands full of peanut butter and jelly on it. The minute I saw the golden streak across the sofa cushion I started to panic. I called friend after friend asking for advice on how to remove the stain. Soda water was the most common response. Some recommended Shout. Luckily it was a slipcover, and my friend Jane recommended a very reputable dry cleaner. Needless to say, the next morning I arrived at the dry cleaner's at six and waited for him to open the store. He welcomed me in, and I proceeded to tell him the tale of the brand-new white couch with the peanut butter smeared on it and how my in-laws were returning the following day and how I needed his help. The man held the slipcover in his hands, examined it, and said, "It's my experience that the best way to handle a situation like this is honesty. After all, what if I clean the cover and it comes out a different shade of white from the rest of the couch? That would make things much worse. I think you should calmly sit down with your mother-in-law and just explain what happened." When he handed me back the slipcover, I looked at him and said, "You're not a dry cleaner, you're a rabbi!"

 

 

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Naomi Levy
author of TALKING TO GOD

Q: What's the difference between talking to God and praying to God?
A: There are many people who feel intimidated by the word prayer. They assume that prayer is something formal that is done only in a house of worship. Often people will say, "I don't know how to pray" but anyone can talk to God. Talking to God is simple—we all have the ability to communicate with God from our souls in our own words.

Q: What inspired you to write and share this very personal book?
A: I first started writing my own prayers when I became pregnant with my son. Pregnancy is such a wondrous experience and there was so much I needed to say to God, but there were so few prayers about this miraculous journey. So I began writing prayer after prayer and I suppose I have never stopped talking to God. As a rabbi, people constantly say to me, "Rabbi, please pray for me or for my loved one." Of course I do pray for people all the time, but I want to show people that they can have an intimate and personal relationship with God all by themselves. In Talking to God, I want people to see that prayer doesn't have to be something formal or intimidating. Prayer happens whenever we reach out to God.

Q: The prayers you write in Talking to God are so life affirming and hopeful. Does this book logically follow your book about overcoming tragedy, To Begin Again?
A: To Begin Again is an attempt to describe a path back to life and joy and faith in the wake of difficult times. In Talking to God I am attempting to describe a path that can lend us joy, meaning and stability throughout all our days: the mundanedays and the monumental ones too. The path I offer is a running dialogue with God.

Q: Does prayer have a special place during times of national tragedy and war?
A: It certainly does. Prayer can help revive our hope, recover our strength. It reminds us that we are not alone, that God hears our cries, that we can triumph in the face of whatever may come.

Q: Are the prayers you've written informed or inspired by personal experience?
A: Some of the prayers grew out of my own life experiences, many grew out of my encounters with others who came to me for counsel.

Q: What is the difference between prayers and blessings?
A: We speak prayers to God, we speak blessings to other people. I included several blessings in Talking to God because I think we all have the power to bestow blessings upon those we love. Sometimes we assume that only members of the clergy can bless people, but every single one of us can offer a blessing. In Talking to God I offer blessings for parents to bestow upon their children, for grandparents to bestow upon grandchildren and also blessings for children to bestow upon their parents. I offer a blessing for loved ones to bestow upon someone in need of healing. There is a blessing for co-workers to recite for a colleague who is about to retire, and a marriage blessing for parents to recite when a child marries.

Q: How does prayer help you?
A: Daily prayer centers me, it reminds me that every single day is a gift from God and an opportunity to learn and grow. On bad days prayer gives me strength, hope and courage and the perspective to see that all things are temporary, even pain. When I feel burnt out, prayer renews my soul. When I am overjoyed, prayer is the way I thank God for my blessings. When I take myself too seriously, prayer gives me a sense of humor, when I am angry, prayer teaches me patience. When I am frightened, prayer calms me, when I feel alone, prayer helps me to see that God is near.

Q: How does prayer get God's attention?
A: I think we always have God's attention. I believe God is always with us, praying for us, rooting for us. I think prayer gets OUR attention. It teaches us to enter into a dialogue with God, to reach out beyond ourselves and see all the gifts that surround us. Prayer teaches us to notice all the miracles we so often ignore; it helps us realize all the potential that is lying dormant within us. Through prayer we can begin to hear the silent voice of our own souls. It doesn't take long before we start to see things we never saw before, to feel things we never felt before. Have we suddenly gotten God's attention? Or has God been there all along and we've suddenly become more attentive to God's presence in our lives?

Q: Can prayer really help us in life situations like divorce, infertility, illness, addiction,
violence, failure, sorrow?
A: Prayer isn't a form of magic. We shouldn't expect to recite a prayer and then miraculously be saved from all of life's pains. But prayer can offer us strength to face our pains, to fight for peace, to accept what we have been denying, to struggle for sobriety, to love again, trust again, try again, dream again. We can't expect God to do the work for us. Prayer teaches us to muster our God-given strength and energy to heal our own lives and to help heal our world.

Q: Is it right to feel let down by God?
A: I think it's natural to feel angry with God when things don't go our way. Often people stop praying to God after a tragedy because they assume that God wasn't listening to their prayers, or that God doesn't care about them. But I think they are mistaken. I believe that God is pained by our pains and that God is beside us in times of sorrow offering us comfort and the strength to triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.



Q: Can prayer help us at work?
A: Prayer can help revive our passion, it can help us overcome burnout, and it can lead us to creativity and inspiration. Prayer can infuse our days with meaning. Through prayer we can find the strength to seek out new positions, to change our life path or our career.

Q: Can prayer help us fall in love?
A: Prayer can help us get in touch with our souls, in can help us to see the beauty in people we might have overlooked. Prayer can help to open our eyes to new possibilities, and it can help calm our fears so that we don't sabotage ourselves when meeting others.

Q: Can prayer heal a marriage?
A: Prayer can't magically cure all marital troubles, but through prayer a couple can learn compromise, the power of forgiveness, gratitude for the gifts of love. Prayer can fill us with the strength to fight temptation, and the desire to rekindle romance. And prayer can help us to turn our ordinary days into extraordinary ones.

Q: Can prayer cure an illness?
A: Prayer can fill us with the courage to overcome our fears. Finding a sense of calm can be an enormous boost to our immune systems. Prayer can fill us with strength to face our pains, and with the stamina to fight for healing. When we feel alone, prayer can help remind us that God is beside us at all times. Prayer can fill us with hope as we face surgery and with gratitude for every tiny step along the path to recovery.

Q: I've never seen prayers for pregnancy and childbirth before. What's the role of prayer during pregnancy?
A: A friend of mine who is a priest told me after he read my chapter of prayers for pregnancy and childbirth that he suddenly realized that so many of the formal prayers were written by men for men. Pregnancy is such a miraculous experience, you would expect there to be scores of pregnancy prayers. Why shouldn't a woman address God at a time when God feels so near? In Talking to God, I offer prayers for the ability to conceive, prayers during pregnancy, prayers for strength during labor, and prayers of gratitude at the miracle of childbirth. Pregnancy
prepares our bodies for receiving a child. During pregnancy we prepare our homes for receiving a child. But through prayer we learn to prepare our hearts and souls for receiving and welcoming our child into this wondrous world.

Q: Can prayer make us better parents?
A: Prayer can help to teach us patience, it can help us find the right words of wisdom to offer our children, it can teach us to have a sense of humor when we take ourselves too seriously, and to offer discipline without rage. Prayer can help us to embrace our children as they are and to love them unconditionally. Prayer can teach us gratitude for every single day with our children.

Q: What kind of impact can prayer have on joyous occasions?
A: Prayer can turn joyous occasions into meaningful occasions. A prayer for a new home can turn a piece of property into a sacred space. A birthday prayer can teach us to grow not only in years but also in goodness and wisdom. A new year's prayer can remind us to take stock of our lives and strive to live up to all the gifts hidden inside us. A prayer for the Thanksgiving feast can help to remind us of all the blessings we usually take for granted.

Q: How can prayer help us to become better people?
A: Prayer doesn't end when it leaves our lips. That's just where prayer begins. Prayer opens our eyes to seeing what we have ignored, it opens our hearts to those less fortunate, it opens our ears to the cries of the suffering, and it opens our arms to lend strength to the weak and the weary. Prayer forces us to look inward and face our own faults. And prayer forces us to look outward and face the imperfect world we have been given. God has filled us with unimaginable potential. Prayer ends when it ignites us to act-to do all that is in our power to bring goodness and tolerance and peace and healing to this world.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Bxhxxncbjdjjdnxhdjdfjffhcjdbdddhfjjfffbfhjfxdfhefhdjffffhjbbfjcjfjccncnnhccfhfjffjdhfghhfhbfhjfgggcfhgfdfgvvfghvvggbvvcvgvccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccvjghghjghhhhghgbhhgvvvvvgghfgfghggggghgujufggddjhjbjdbjjdbvdub

    Jfjsjjcfhgjcfhcjfffjjfhjjjjjjjhgjjhhhhhhbbhhhhhjjj

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)