5 Tools to Get Your Prayers Answered
When I heard that the topic of Dina Friedman’s class last week was “Getting your Kids to Pray” I didn’t even listen to it. The topic sounded pretty, well, dull… But then another very excited mom who is taking the class called to ask, “Have you heard the class on prayer yet? It’s incredible!”
So I listened to the class, and I also got really excited about it. This class is truly revolutionizing my understanding of prayer…and most importantly it’s helping me to understand how I can get my prayers answered.
This is what Dina Friedman taught us:
The way to get children to pray is to teach children that God always wants to answer our prayers.
Your child wants a new doll, an A+ on his test, or to change his seat in class? Then teach him to ask God for what he wants. And when the answer to the child’s prayer arrives, teach him to say, “Thank you God for helping me in this way.” Whenever something goes right for your child, teach him to understand that God loves him and is taking care of him.
Dina told us 2 stories from her family about children’s prayers miraculously answered: Dina told us about the time her 12-year-old daughter wanted a second pair of shoes. Dina wasn’t able to buy her the shoes, but she told her daughter, “If you really want another pair of shoes, then you can pray and you could receive them.” Soon after that, a neighbor came by with a new pair of shoes she had never worn, but which didn’t fit her. And she gave them as a gift to Dina’s daughter.
On another occasion, before Dina’s family moved to a home with a big yard, Dina’s 4-year-old son said that when they moved he wanted a horse and rabbits to keep in the new yard. Dina told her son, “If you really want a horse and rabbits, you can pray to God and He could give them to you.” Soon after they moved to their new home, Dina discovered that there was a riding academy nearby, and the horses stopped next to their house nearly every day, along with a family of rabbits that spent much of the day in their yard.
Once you start praying and living your life in this way, Dina explains, and focusing on the idea that God can do anything and can give you everything you need, you will never see prayer as just an obligation again. Prayer will be something that you and your children will really want to do! I (Chana Jenny here) have already tried praying in this way several times since hearing the class, and it really is true…I felt that my prayers were actually answered on several occasions. Very surreal but very true…
Dina explains that the key to getting your prayers answered is this: God answers your prayers in accordance with the strength of your belief in God’s compassion and your belief in God’s desire to grant you your wishes.
So, why is it that so often it seems that God does not answer our prayers? If you prayed for something, and it seems like you were not granted what you prayed for, keep in mind the following points:
1. Leave the Options Open: Prayer just sets a process in motion, and doesn’t necessarily end with the result you initially prayed for. So while it’s true that God almost always answers our prayers, oftentimes you won’t feel that way since God leads you down a very different path than the one you had in mind in order to lead you to your final destination. For this reason, and because our human understanding is so limited, it is preferable to pray simply that God should solve a certain problem, rather than asking that He should solve your problem in a specific way. For example, instead of praying that you should win the lottery, pray that God should help to dramatically improve your financial situation. Or instead of praying that your child should be accepted to a certain school, pray that your child should be accepted to the best school for her.
2. Learn to Interpret God’s Answers: After a request, God sometimes sends experiences that are intended to prepare you (or as Dina says, “make you into a vessel”) to receive the thing you requested. For example, if you feel like your life suddenly becomes much more difficult after praying for assistance, keep in mind that God might just be preparing you and forcing you to make the changes necessary in order to receive what you prayed for. In other words, a large part of getting your prayers answered is just learning to interpret the answer the God has given you…
3. Think Before you Pray: If a prayer was not answered, you or your child should also consider whether what you were asking for was really in your best interest, and would actually move you ahead in life. For example, if your child is praying to receive a whole bag of lollipops, and doesn’t receive one, you can ask the child if receiving that bag of lollipops is really in her best interest. If you and your child learn to only pray for what is in your best interest, you will find that your prayers will be answered more and more.
4. Learn what you Need to Learn: If a prayer was not answered, it’s also possible that you still have not learned what God wanted you to learn from a certain situation. For example, if a child prays to do well on a test, and he fails anyway, it might be because God wants him to learn that he must study more. Of course, prayer works hand in hand with our hishtadlut, our reasonable human effort. The quicker you learn the lesson that you are supposed to learn from a given difficult situation, the quicker you will receive relief from your distress.
5. Patience: Finally, if your prayer was not answered yet, it might just be that the answer to your prayers is taking a longer time than you expected. But if you keep on believing that your prayer will be answered, chances are it will be.
As it says, “HaMasbia l’kol Chai Ratson”…God satisfies the desires of every living being.
Read more on this topic in the article How to Get your Prayers Answered by Rabbi Noach Weinberg
*Thanks to my friend and learning partner Yonina Schlussel for sending me her transcribed notes for this class.