How do I train myself to talk to Hashem?
And this I’ll answer as follows. At first you have to be a hypocrite. You have to do it superficially. You have to say the words.
And that’s what we do when we daven. We’re talking to Hashem but actually קרוב אתה בפיהם ורחוק מכליותיהם. That’s what the navi says “You are close in their mouths but You are far away from their kidneys” (Yirmiyahu 12:2). It means ‘You are far away from their insides.’ That’s the truth. That’s what davening is.
It’s only if a man sincerely embarks on a career of learning to speak to Hashem that his davening finally becomes meaningful. After a while when he says אתה – ‘You’, he feels he’s talking to somebody. When that great day comes you have arrived!
And so first you’re superficial. You’re a hypocrite. Of course it’s a good hypocrisy. You’re doing it to train yourself. You talk to Hashem and you say “I thank You Hashem that You have made me healthy.” When you see a man hopping in the street with one empty trousers leg and he has crutches and you have two good legs, you have to stop and think “Baruch atah Hashem that I have two legs.”
You see a man walking in the street and one empty sleeve pinned to his pocket, you have to thank Hakadosh Baruch Hu that you have two.
And so, little by little you get accustomed to saying the words. And after a while you’re going to feel that there’s somebody actually listening.
That’s what Mesillas Yesharim says. At first you say it and after a while the realization enters your mind because you have that instinct that all human beings have that Hashem actually is there and is listening.
TAPE # 317 (May 1980)