Gratitude is Prayer

I haven’t written a blog entry or done a video blog (I refuse to call if a Vlog!!) in awhile.  I apologize.  But I’m grateful for each and every word you read or listen to even after I have disappeared awhile. 🙂

So, here goes…

With my students, we often talk about the possibilities of and many forms there are to what we might call prayer.  For most teens, there is no point to any of it, and we have extremely interesting conversations about whether or not there IS a point to prayer.

To give my students an example of when and why prayer can be important, I often tell them about when my father was dying.  Yes, I prayed, but what does one pray for when one is dealing with an inevitable?  He was, at that time, already overwhelmed with cancer.  So, was I to pray for him to live?  That would have been asking for too much in my opinion.  That would have been asking for the impossible — a miracle on par with the splitting of the sea.  If I prayed for recovery, I would have only been disappointed that my prayer had not been “heard” or “wasn’t answered”.  But for me, there was still reason to pray.

What do we pray for in times of distress if not for recovery or miracles?  To me, prayer is all about gratitude, and my moment in distress was no different.  Maybe it’s a gratitude that we assign to an outside Force with a particular text or our own poetry.  Maybe it’s just an inner gratitude we can allow to emanate without any words at all.  To me, the deepest “prayer” I can muster is just a sensation of thanks.  If nothing else, it creates an opportunity for me to talk (even if it’s to myself) and an opening to realize what I really need at any given time, which is usually not a miracle.

So, for my father, all I prayed was gratitude… Thanks for the life we had together.  Thanks that I could be there with him and my mother at that crucial time.  Thanks that our relationship wasn’t complicated or riddled with unanswered questions.  Thanks that we had peace.  Instead of “God, would you?”, I prayed, “God, thank you.”

A few days ago, I found myself deep in prayer again.  No one was ill this time, fortunately, but I was definitely in full-prayer-mode as I awaited a 12-person jury to make a decision.  The issue wasn’t about me personally, but it was about an organization I cherish, love, rely upon, and desperately want to be safe and healthy.

You can probably guess that when I prayed, I didn’t ask God for a miracle.  I didn’t even ask God to give us the decision we hoped for, and I certainly didn’t pray for the decision to hurt the other side.  Instead, I tried to fill myself with gratitude for my family’s relationship with this organization and thanks for the many lives that had been touched by it.  I chose to simply pray for fairness and justice, not the ultimate possible outcome.  I kept repeating to myself like a mantra… “Please let there be fairness and justice, whatever that looks like.  Please let there be fairness and justice, whatever that looks like.”

I won’t get into the details, but I will tell you fairness was delivered (big sigh of relief!).  Do I think it was because I prayed?  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.  🙂 But at least praying gave me a way to do something with and for myself in a time of feeling powerless.  It also forced me (and my entire family) to realize how lucky we are for the past and present, without focusing on the outcome of the future.

The next time you find yourself in a moment that calls for prayer, let it flow, whatever it is.  Don’t judge yourself if you don’t believe in God or if you think praying is silly.  Sometimes we just need to talk, and it doesn’t really matter if anyone is listening.  It’s just about us figuring out what we need to say.  And as you pray, even if the “prayer” is just an uprising of emotion, ask yourself what you REALLY need out of that moment.  Is it for an outcome?  Is it for a thing?  Or is it the opportunity to connect to the sliver of gratitude we can find in even the darkest of situations?

In fact, we usually say a Shehechianu at joyous occasions, but I’m starting to think it’s for the less joyous times too.  Perhaps the next time we find ourselves in a pickle, we can also say: Thank you (God) for my life which continues to flow, and thank you and for this exact moment right now, be it joyous or challenging.

Okay, maybe I took a little poetic license with the Shehechianu, but that’s what it means to me. 😉

Talk again you soon,

”Rantor” Diane


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4 thoughts on “Gratitude is Prayer

  1. Thank you, Rabbi, for your remarks on prayer and gratitude. (May I never forget how much I have to be grateful for.)


  2. I learned about “thank you” years ago. People around me don’t seem to ever think of thank you rather than “I want…I need…”. Recently, a friend was critically ill and ended up with a heart transplant. I found myself again praying for her to “get well”. Am I correct that rather than prayers for her to “get well”, I could have prayed to thank G-d for giving the doctor’s the ability to “heal”. Does that make sense?

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Very meaningful. Thanks! I’m reading Deepak Chopra s life after death book and thinking about life as presenting opportunities to evolve (karma). I guess that’s what this cancer treatment is about so I’m grateful for that.

    My conference was so moving to me. 270 people came. I’ll tell you about it when I see you

    All my relatives left this weekend so we are settling into more quiet. We are all pretty exhausted but it was so great to have my sisters here

    I had my 11th out of 12 chemos today

    It’s definitely more exhausting these weeks but I see the end in sight ! Just have to get over Tuesday through Thursday side effects.

    If you want to take a walk this week or next I’d love to try

    Stella will be back Wednesday ! She seems to be doing well. More communicative and open these days And luiza seems older, more mature

    And … Mauricio announced that he’s going back to a three month coding boot camp to become a computer programmer and get a full time job! I’ll continue praying with gratitude for that! But this jeans he’s studying round the clock and will be in classes 12 hours a day six days a week startin soon.. so I’ll be dealing with radiation and kids myself. But it’s better for him to do this while I’m home

    More later Julie

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. I really needed this today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words. It was truly a beautiful and timely read….


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