Let My People Know

"Is it reasonable to expect a response to our prayers?"


Even when we accept the premise that God hears everything, including our prayers, another question arises: is it reasonable to expect a response?

Somehow, people have the idea that their prayers deserve a response that will be the fulfillment of that prayer.

In our world, however, everyone knows that a petition may be received and read, and the answer may still be "No."

So, too, it may happen with prayer; there is a possibility that the answer to a prayer—even if prayed fervently and with all goodwill and sincere intentions—will just be "No."

Often people have an expectation that whenever they ask for something–or at least when they ask God for it–they must get it.

This may be called "the spoiled brat philoso­phy."

In prayer, too, one pleads for an answer, or for an ex­planation, but the response may not satisfy the request.

Only very occasionally does one get a direct, explicit an­swer.

Sometimes a partial answer comes to us many years later.

Something I once did, which at the time seemed pointless or wrong, in retrospect may turn out to have been a very important and successful action.

I may expect light­ning to strike me whenever I do something wrong, but the lightning may come in God's good time, which is, most probably, when I least expect it.

Many times, the answer–which is the most appropriate one–is silence.

And we may very well go through life—at least life in this world–with­out getting any answer whatsoever.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Simple Words, p. 93., by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz