5774: Make a Prayer

Jews don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Nope. Not our style. We make New Year’s prayers.

A resolution is made up only of my will. That’s it. It starts and ends on earth. A prayer starts on earth, ascends to heaven and maybe—just maybe—it returns to earth as a blessing. A resolution is merely an act of faith in self. A prayer is an act of faith in the partnership between humanity and God.

Now don’t get me wrong. We’re still responsible for doing our part, but we recognize that the way it turns out is ultimately up to a Higher Power.

Here are a few of my prayers, the prayers of a father, the prayers of a writer, the prayers of a man:

I pray to remember the abundance of joy, love and beauty in the world. God’s gifts.

I pray to remember to say ‘I love you’ at every possible turn to my daughters and Mom. More gifts.

I pray to always act from a place of honor and respect for others and for myself, a source of beauty and light.

I pray to continue to spread a heart, a mind and a voice for Jewish prayer in my writing and in my life.

Others are a bit more personal. You get the idea.

The odd thing is this: Each of those sentences could begin with the words ‘I resolve to’ rather than ‘I pray to.’ Prayer acknowledges my vulnerability. It adds humility. It recognizes the need to bring God into my daily life, my behavior, my being. I still have to make the changes. I still have to act with joy, call my kids to talk, pick up a pen and write. I’m still responsible for the legwork. I give the outcome to God.

Only then—God willing—my prayers, your prayers, our prayers will return to earth as blessings.

So make some prayers. Then do the legwork.

To Pray
G-d, bless me with a heart of prayer:
To lift my voice,
To sing Your praise,
To extol Your wisdom,
To recall Your deeds,
To proclaim Your glory,
To declare Your majesty,
To recount Your ways,
To remember Your works,
To delight in Your gifts,
To rejoice in Your Word.

Let prayer flow from my lips.
Let me join the song of my people,
Filling the realms above
And the realms below
With joy and wonder,
So that holiness, radiance and awe,
Walk with us
Throughout our days.

“To Pray” is © 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Alden Solovy is the Liturgist-in-Residence at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. A liturgist, poet, and educator, his teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout North America. He's the author of “This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day” and has written more than 750 pieces of new liturgy. His new book, "This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings," was published in 2019. He made aliyah in 2012. Read his work at www.ToBendLight.com.