“Pray as though everything depended on God. Act as though everything depended on you.”
These words, taken from the Reform prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, appear immediately before the Amidah (also known as Ha-T’filah, THE Prayer). We never read these words out loud at my congregation. I’m not sure whether I wish we did or I’m glad we don’t. Their silent imprint on my mind and soul each time I encounter them remind me to pray with all I’ve got, because our thoughts, feelings and prayers mean something. Whether to God or to ourselves, they mean something. Yet the bottom line is that our actions are what really count.
Part of my teshuvah this year is to remind myself of this not only when I encounter the words during worship, but when I’m tempted to speak unkindly, whether to snap at my husband or be snarky to a stranger. The real lesson of this quote is that we are created with the ability to allow our actions overpower our thoughts. We can’t necessarily prevent the thoughts from popping into our heads, but we most certainly can control how we act – and don’t act – upon them.
The Jewish month of Elul leading up to the High Holy Days provides an opportunity for spiritual preparation. It is a time for cheshbon ha-nefesh – looking inward and reflecting on the past year. The daily sounding of the shofar calls us to examine our words and our actions, and the words of Selichot (prayers of forgiveness) inspire us to seek forgiveness and to forgive others. We look ahead to the new year when we can begin anew, striving to be the best version of ourselves. Each day, I plan to blog on a thought related to this period preparation for the Days of Awe, along with many others in the Jewish blogosphere. For further inspiration, search #blogElul on Twitter or Facebook.
I invite you to add your own thoughts on the daily topic. Feel free to add your comments below or write your own blog, following the daily topics indicated or any others that call out to you.