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purpose of prayer

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  • purpose of prayer

    Pray Tell

    Writing about what I do and think is a pleasant and useful activity; I have been doing this since I was a student, at Warsaw Polytechnic Institute, first in diaries, on which my online book was based:
    Ludwik Kowalski, "Diary of a Former Communist"

    then in over one hundred scientific and pedagogical publications (see Wikipedia).
    I do not recall what prompted me to start thinking about God, and to record my reflections, after I retired. But I still like doing it, when prompted, usually after reading a book, after an unexpected conversation, or after an interesting synagogue activity.
    Our "Pray Tell: Hadassah Guide to Jewish Prayer" book, by Rabbi Jules Harlow, et al, has some pencil marks along both margins. Some of them were made by my wife, when she read this book several years ago, others were made by me, more recently.
    "What is the purpose of prayer?" asked Rabbi Harlow. That question is the first among those that I underlined with a pencil. Most people define prayers, of various kinds, as conversations with God. But who is God? Some religious people believe that God is a human-like entity, residing in the sky, among angels and other spiritual entities. But my definition is different. God is not a human-like material entity. It is a very useful intellectual spiritual concept. This observation reminds me of a Shabbat reading often recited in our Reform temple.

    "PRAY AS IF everything depended on God.
    Act as if everything depended on you.

    God's Presence to suffuse our spirits,
    God's will to prevail in our lives."
    Prayer may not bring water to parched fields,
    nor mend a broken bridge,
    not rebuild a ruined city.
    But prayer can water an arid soul,
    mend a broken heart,
    rebuild a weakened will.

    What kind of activity Is a one-way conversation between a material human being and a non-material God? I would say that prayers belong to spiritual activities, like thinking, composing, writing poems, etc. But I am not a theologian.
    Ludwik Kowalski, a retired nuclear physicist (see Wikipedia), the author of “Diary of a Former Communist,” at:

    It is a testimony based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA). Why is this ON-LINE book free? Because writing it was a moral obligation to my parents, and to other victims of Stalinism.