We continue on the topic of questions relating to Personal Prayers.
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10. How often should I talk to God?
Daily, and at least sixty minutes per day will keep you at top spiritual health. People on high spiritual levels talk to God a lot more - the higher the level, the more they're "plugged in" to God. It resembles athletics - the better the athlete, the more time he or she spends on the track or in the gym.
11. Can I ask for whatever I want?
Certainly! You're much better off asking something from God - Who can give you anything - than asking from people, who can't deliver the goods.
We humans are ridiculous, the way we chase after others rather than asking our needs from God. Doctors can't cure cancer, but the Almighty can! Let me tell you a story about my father, may he rest in peace:
In October of 1991, I was in my final year at rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem. In seven months, I would be taking intensive written and oral exams on more than seven years of intensive study. The next few months would necessitate total immersion.
My father hadn't been feeling well, but I didn't know the extent of his ailments. One day, my sister Sheila called me long distance from the USA, and dropped a bomb on me: "Lazer, if you want to see Pop again, you had better catch the next flight out of Israel; the doctors have found four different diseases eating away at him. They can't give him blood transfusions any more, because his blood has developed antibodies. They're giving him between six weeks and three months to live."
I was strangely calm, despite the dismal tidings. I looked up from my open Talmudic tractate, and said into the phone, "Dear sister, doctors don't run the world. Anyway, I'll call you back in an hour to let you know what my next move is. Bye-bye."
Without a moment's hesitation, I went to see a righteous sage by the name of Rabbi Abraham Fish, of blessed memory. By Divine Providence, he was home. "Rabbi," I blurted, "My sister called a few minutes ago, and told me that our father is dying. The doctors have identified four types of cancer - in his blood, bone marrow, joints, and in his left lung. The optimists give him three months, and the pessimists say six weeks. What do I do? The family demands that I get on the next plane to the States. I don't want to sound selfish, but if I take extended leave from seminary now, my studies go down the drain!"
"Lazer," answered Rabbi Fish calmly, "You're not going anywhere except to the northern hills overlooking Jerusalem. Cry your heart out to the Almighty, and beg for your father's life. Don't look at your watch, and don't stop praying until your clothes are soaked. I'll do the same at my end. Meanwhile, call your sister and tell her you're not visiting America until at least next year…"
I did exactly what the wise old sage told me. To make a long story short, my father made medical history; he lived for an additional eight and a half years, danced at two of his grandchildren's weddings and witnessed the birth of his first great grandson. He did undergo three operations - the removal of a bad lung and the replacement of a deteriorated knee and shoulder - but all four cancers disappeared!
(It was almost midnight, and the perfect time and place for Personal Prayer). Okay Aussies, one more question before we split up for Personal Prayer.
(Neville shot his hand up in the air once more).
12. Lazer, my brain understands what you've been saying, but I don't yet feel it in my heart. Can you fire me up before we all go our separate ways?
Imagine this setting: Your pulse quickens as you reach your post office box. You're so excited, that your hand is shaking like a dish of Jell-O. When you finally succeed in inserting the key and turning the lock, the little door pops open, and…there it is! A legal-sized blue and gold embossed envelope with the Presidential Seal on the outside, addressed to your name! You want to rip open the letter this very instant, but reconsider - what a shame to ruin an envelope from the White House. Better to go home, to carefully slit the envelope with a sharp letter opener, and to savor the contents of your personal message from the President of the United States in the intimacy of your own home.
It's true! This time, your heart skips a beat and a quick shiver flashes down your spine to the soles of your feet. A second or two later, when you begin to breathe again, tiny beads of sweat emerge on your forehead. Your eyes deny what they see, so you read the letter carefully a second and a third time. No, there's no mistake. The President has granted your request for a twenty-minute audience. You can ask for whatever you want! Three weeks from now, you'll be an honored guest in the White House!
Nobody believed you'd ever reach the President. You waited a month to meet the mayor of your town, but came away empty handed. Several weeks later, you drove to the state capital. When you were fed up with the condescending state legislator who was willing to give you a seven-minute appointment in another three months, you decided to write the governor. Six weeks later, you received a form letter from the governor's office redirecting you to a series of bureaucrats, most of whom can't help themselves, much less you. This is ridiculous, you thought, so you sent a fax to your congressman. An aide answered you, with fifteen polite reasons why your congressman can't help you or meet with you at this point. You received a similar reaction from both senators. What happened to all the pre-election promises of the open-door policy?
Disappointed and disillusioned with the self-serving system that has long since forgotten the Gettysburg principle of "for the people," you pour your heart out in a letter to the President. Finally, after eight months of being tossed back and forth like a shuttlecock, you've made it to the top.
For the next three weeks, you eat, sleep, and drink your upcoming meeting with the President. Over and over, you rehearse your delivery. Every word has to count. Your appearance and manner must be impeccable. Nothing else concerns you. Suddenly, all the conversation around you is small talk, insignificant. "I'm going to be meeting the President," you tell yourself repeatedly. Who knows when you'll ever have another opportunity?
A nagging thought still upsets you. "Why did I waste all my precious time, nerves, and energy on chasing bureaucrats, state legislators, the mayor, and further up the ladder to my representatives in Congress, when I could have turned directly to the President in the first place. What a dunce I am!" One who could have received an audience in the White House in the first place would be daft to approach lesser functionaries.
Now, think how limited the President is. He can't grant you health, happiness, or length of days. He can't even control his own bodily functions. Presidential decisions can be appealed and overturned, so even if the President makes you a promise, you can't be sure it if he'll deliver the goods.
Dear friends, I'm now arranging a meeting for you that will be far more beneficial than anything you can accomplish in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. You'll be speaking to someone who isn't subject to reelection every four years, and not vulnerable to partisan pressure or political considerations. You'll be speaking to an Entity than will let you talk as long as you please, and is patient enough to listen to all of your problems and pains. You don't have to be embarrassed to laugh, cry, dance, jump up and down, yell, or whisper as you please. You don't have to wait in line, and you don't have to grease the palms of any middlemen to get your audience. You can request whatever you want. How? Why? Impossible?
Nope. You're about to have a one-on-one session with God. Let's go.
Sure enough, Neville yelled louder than anybody else. He argued and shook his fist, aired his complaints, and ended up crying like a little baby. When we regrouped at the campfire site after our Personal Prayer session, he shook my hand warmly, and said, "Thanks, Lazer. I'll never forget you for this wonderful experience."
"Don't thank me," I answered. "I'm just passing on what I received from my spiritual guides, and what they received from theirs, all the way back to Dovid HaMelech (King David) and to Moshe (Moses)."
To be continued . . .
(The Trail to Tranquility - Lazer's newest book! Now available directly from the publisher: