How does one 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 although actually it’s קרוב אתה בפיהם ורחוק מכליותיהם. That’s what the Navi said: “You are close in their mouths but You are far away from their kidneys” – that means from their insides. And that’s the truth. That’s what davenen is; it’s superficial.
It’s only when a man sincerely embarks on a career of learning to speak to Hashem that his davenen becomes meaningful. After a while when he says אתה, “You,” he feels he’s talking to somebody. And when that great day comes, then you know you have arrived.
And so first do it superficially. You’re a hypocrite. Of course, it’s a good hypocrisy. You’re doing it to train yourself. You talk to Hashem whenever you can 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 don’t need any crutches – so you have to stop and say, “Boruch atah Hashem that I have two good legs.” You see a man walking in the street with one empty sleeve pinned to his pocket, then you have to thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu that your sleeves are not empty.
And little by little you’ll get accustomed to saying the words, and after a while you’re going to feel that there’s Somebody actually listening. That’s what the Mesillas Yesharim says, that at first you say it and after a while the realization enters your mind. Because you have an instinct that all human beings have that Hashem is actually there and He’s listening.
TAPE # 317 (July 1980)