The purpose of prayer is to awaken us to this truth: Alles iz Gott/All is God, the singular source and substance that embraces and transcends all reality. With this in mind let me share two prayers that you might incorporate into your own life.
Elohai nishahmah sheh natatabi t’horah he
Each morning before I get out of bed I pray: Elohai nishahmah sheh natatabi t’horah he/My God the breath you breathe through me is pure. This prayer reminds me of my true nature: while my form is the product of heredity and habit, my essence is the breath of God breathed into the world to be a blessing to all the families of the world. (Genesis 12:3)
This breath is pure: untainted by yesterday’s errors, and unconditioned by race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or beliefs of any kind. This breath, like all breath, is fleeting. I am not a permanent feature of reality, but a temporary expression of it. Each morning I am breathed anew: an expression of God breathed for the purpose of manifesting godliness.
Ein od milvado
Ein od milvado/There is nothing other than God (Deuteronomy 4:35) is a mantrum, a sacred text recited throughout the day reminding me that all reality is an expression of God. Silently repeating Ein od milvado in my mind reminds me that everything—light and dark, good and evil—is a manifestation of God. (Isaiah 45:7) Repeating Ein od milvado allows me to see myself and all beings as a part of the divine unfolding and never apart from it. Repeating Ein od milvado lifts me out of the fearful, angry, and often violent trap of us against them, and plants me firmly in the loving, just, and creative realization of us and them, and all of us together. Repeating Ein od milvado I no longer see things as black or white, but as black and white. Repeating Ein od milvado I discover over and again that there is no self or other, there is only God manifesting as both. And with this discovery comes the capacity to meet God in all God’s forms fearlessly, compassionately, and justly.
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I hope these two Hebrew prayers speak to you, but whether they do or not I invite you to find prayers of your own that call you out of the narrowness of self and selfishness and into the spaciousness of God and godliness.
Rami Shapiro is a Reform rabbi and an award–winning author of over thirty books on religion and spirituality.