RELIGION
12/18/2014 09:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Daily Meditation: Prayers That Change The World

We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these Daily Meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life.

Today's meditation features a commentary on prayer by the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, originally published in a book of his essays titled "Moral Grandeur." His words invoke the transformative and at times subversive elements of prayer, which should never become rote or stale.

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Students of Govt Primary School Village Pochanpur paying tribute to the victims of Peshawar school attack on December 17, 2014 in New Delhi, India.

The Predicament of Prayer by Abraham Joshua Heschel

The predicament of prayer is twofold: Not only do we not know how to pray; we do not know what to pray for. We have lost the ability to be shocked. Should we not pray for the ability to be shocked at atrocities committed by humanity, for the capacity to be dismayed at our inability to be dismayed?

Prayer should be an act of catharsis, of purgation of emotions, as well as a process of self-clarification, of examining priorities, of elucidating responsibility. Prayer not verified by conduct is an act of desecration and blasphemy.

A home is more than an exclusive habitat, mine and never yours. A residence devoid of hospitality is a den or a hole, not a home. Prayer must never be a citadel for selfish concerns, but rather a place for deepening concern over other
people’s plight.

Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision. (Moral Grandeur, pp. 262-63)

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