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You’re late! You fumble for your shoes, grab your keys—no time for coffee—and you’re out the door. Sprinting down the sidewalk you see passengers climbing onto the bus you take every morning to work. But you are still half a block away. Do you:
a) pray for the bus to wait and then slow down to a nice strolling pace, certain that your prayer will be answered, or
b) pray for the bus to wait and then run like mad
The answer seems obvious. If we were watching these two scenarios play out side-by-side, we might laugh when the bus drives away leaving the strolling passenger behind. Of course it won’t wait, we’d say.
The Zohar teaches us that prayer is only half of the equation. When prayer is accompanied by action we hold a better chance of actually manifesting our desires. In other words, pray for the bus to wait and then run as fast as you can!
In the biblical story, Vayishlach, Jacob has fled his home for fear that his brother, Esau, will murder him. After Jacob swindles Esau out of his father’s blessing given to him by birthright, Esau declares revenge.
Jacob lives in fear of his brother for many years. Finally, he decides to send Esau gifts to make peace. The messenger returns and informs Jacob that Esau is approaching with 400 men to meet him. Jacob cries out in prayer, “Save me, I pray from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children.”
Though scared, Jacob decides to face his brother with his camp regardless. He bows before his brother seven times, unsure of what will follow. Esau goes to Jacob, hugs him in return, and together they weep.
The brothers are only able to reconcile because prayer accompanied Jacob’s action of good will. Kabbalistically, had Jacob sent the gifts and failed to pray to the Creator, the events would not have played out so well. Prayer without action is like a fish without water. They go hand in hand. According to the Zohar, “Prayer is made up of both action and speech, and when the action is faulty, speech does not find a spot to rest in; such prayer is not prayer.”
When we find ourselves on a path that is not headed in the direction we wish to go, we can change our course at any time. But the key is action. We cannot continue on the same path, hoping that things will turn out differently or that we will magically arrive at our desired destination, whether we’re headed in that direction or not.
There’s a tale of a small town that became flooded with rain, which illustrates this point. The water levels rose so high that people were forced to leave their homes and seek safety on high ground. A man climbed on to his roof and prayed to the Creator, “Save me from this flood!” A couple in a canoe came along and invited him to sail with them to safety. “No thank you!” he replied. “I have sent a prayer to God. He will save me.”
The rain poured on and the water continued to rise. A larger boat passed offering help. Again, the man refused, confident that the Creator would come through. The water eventually engulfed the entire house. The man was clinging to the chimney when a helicopter flew by and dropped a ladder for the man to climb. He shook his head and waved the helicopter on, still believing that the Creator would bring him to safety.
The man drowned in the flood and when he finally stood face to face with the Creator, he asked, “God, I prayed for help. Why didn’t you save me?”
“I sent you a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter!” replied God. “What more were you looking for?”
Prayer and action work together to help us change our course. Yehuda Berg explains this concept in Angel Intelligence, “Your destiny is a function of your consciousness. It is not enough to go through the motions of praying. Your level of consciousness and true actions will determine whether you connect to the Higher Realms and are able to erase the negative energy that has accumulated around you.”
The Light supports our good deeds, positive actions, and intuitive decisions. We can get bogged down by the weight of our egos, which caution us against action. It’s too much work. It’s too late. It’s not the right time. However, action is the first step. As Michael Berg states, “Once a person decides to do the right thing—to do whatever it takes to connect to the Light of the Creator—miracles will occur to support that person.”
Sometimes, the Light leads us in unexpected directions or down a road less traveled. Prayer helps build certainty that you are headed in the right direction. Pray and then take the first step. You know that it's right, when things seem to fall in line. Prayer brings about miracles to help you along the way and build certainty. “Knowing we can actually reach our destination helps us lock down our intention,” says Yehuda Berg. “The universe has to respond accordingly.” So go ahead and pray for the bus to wait. But remember, when you combine prayer with action, you’ll never miss the bus.