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THERE IS SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT PRAYER, even though so much has already been said about it. This is because prayer is fundamental to life, and crucial for mankind achieving its goal.

The need to pray is inherent. It is a not a “religious thing” but a human thing. It’s just that religious people are more spiritually sensitive, and being so, automatically look for vehicles of spiritual expression.

It is not unlike the issue of diet today. There are people who are health-conscious, and therefore make a point of cutting out fast-foods, and indulge instead on greens and grains. They take vitamins, and they avoid red meat whenever possible.

Then there are people who are not health-conscious - they eat what they fancy. What do they think about people who abstain from fatty foods and sweets, and who would never be caught alive in a fast-food restaurant? They think they’re fanatics. They certainly don’t feel that the diet of the health-conscious person is what they should be following too.

But the truth is, the lack of one’s awareness about what’s healthy to eat and what’s not healthy to eat does not mysteriously make the dangers of "bad" food disappear. Somewhere, and at sometime, bad eating habits catch up to just about everyone, and cause some form of sickness that can often prove fatal.

Spiritually-conscious people watch what they say, what they eat, how they think, and, they tend to pray. Non-spiritual people think that such people are religious fanatics, people who have a need they themselves are without.

But there are no atheists in a foxhole.

Why wait for a heart attack to stop eating poorly? Why wait for lung cancer before giving up cigarettes? Why wait for disaster (living a less fulfilling life than was possible) before waking up to the other side of you, the side that gets suppressed when you avoid spirituality?

The fact that one doesn’t feel anything negative, or any impending need to pray doesn’t mean they don’t need to. It just means that the person is suppressing his or her spiritual self, and inherent need to live a "healthy" spiritual life.

The Creator of the world made it possible to live a spiritually unproductive life. Otherwise, where would the free-choice be to choose a spiritually productive one? On the other hand, He also made it that a person cannot go on forever without their spiritual component, without suffering at some point.

Physical pain is uncomfortable enough to make us wake up to reality that is causing the pain, and to cause us to change our direction in life. When it comes to spiritual pain, it is also uncomfortable, but in a different way. Instead of personal greatness, there is only mediocrity. Instead of feeling a tingle every conscious moment of life, there are only moments of excitement.

But when one sincerely turns to prayer, and accesses the infinite reality for which prayer serves as a portal, then mediocrity is no longer good enough, and life becomes constant triumph over the limited, physical reality. It is then that our "strength will be in our mouths," (Numbers 22:4; Rashi explains that Balak, the king of Moab, contracted Bilaam to curse the Jewish people to counteract Moses, whose power was in his mouth. In other words, Moses ability to pray to God and be answered was the secret to the Jewish people’s previous military successes. Therefore, Balak reasoned, the only way to battle one whose strength was in his mouth was with someone else whose strength was in his mouth, and that was Bilaam.) and that we will "pray correctly as is fitting and right." (These are the final words of a special prayer recited Friday evenings before Kiddush is made over the wine. It is a beautiful prayer that thanks God for all the good He has given, and asks that the goodness continue and increase. It is exile, the author of the prayer observed, that, among other things, hampers our ability to pray properly.)

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