Rav Avigdor Miller on Why Bother Davening?

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Q: 
Why do we bother davening if everything that happens to us is for the good anyways? Shouldn’t we just spend the time thanking Hashem or asking Hashem to help us accept everything properly? 

A:
The answer is that we do thank Hashem as part of our davening. Thanking is a very big part of our tefillah, by the way. A very big part.

However, davening for our needs – and our wants – is very important as well. We daven not because it is necessary to tell Hashem what we need –  but because it is necessary to tell ourselves what we need from Him.

Listen to me.  The word hispallel is called a reflexive verb. Pallel means to think and li’hispallel means to make yourself think. To make yourself aware. You are davening because the most important function in your life is to make yourself aware of Hashem.

You’re asking Hashem – Refa’ainu Hashem – Please Hashem, please give me good health. It makes you think – it makes you aware – that Hashem is the one who is giving you good health. Although you may go to sleep on time – and it is very important to go to sleep on time. And you get fresh air every day. Yes, take a brisk walk every day for a half hour or so. And you eat only healthy foods. Very good! Very good! But don’t give yourself credit at all. Hispallel – you have to pray to Hashem in order to gain the attitude that He is giving you all the good things. And by asking Him and begging Him we gain the attitude that He is the one who is giving us all that we have. Otherwise we will keep on thinking that כוחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה, that  my own power – my own ability – gives me my good health. No! Your good health comes from Hashem. Of course, you have to try to maintain your health. Do what you can to stay healthy. But you have to ask Hashem – “Please Hashem, please keep me healthy.” The Gemara says לעולם יבקש אדם שלא יחלה –  “A person should always ask mercy – always, always he should ask Hashem that he shouldn’t become sick.” Always! You’re a healthy man. You’re not even thinking about getting sick. Keep on asking. Keep on asking! Always! If you’re wise you’ll do it every day. Even on the street, stop for a minute and say, “I’m asking you Hashem, please keep me well.” If you’re married, “Keep my wife well. Keep my children well.”

Always ask. It’s very important. Hashem says – “If you don’t ask that means that you think you can get along without me.” So He might remind you. Chas ve’shalom He might remind you. Even if you’re very careful with your health a man might pass by you,  a non-Jew, a Russian, let’s say, and he sneezes right into your face. They sneeze into to your face sometimes, the Russians – and you catch something. Maybe something serious. You took care of your health but you couldn’t help it – he sneezed right into your face. And now you’re in bed for a few weeks. Why did it happen? Because you didn’t remind yourself that Hashem is the one who keeps you healthy. That’s why you have to ask for it always.

Parnasa as well. You must say, “Hashem, please give me parnasa.” You’re a hard working man. You’re a professional. You have a good parnasa. You have everything you need. Don’t give yourself credit at all. Ask Hashem. Thank Hashem because He is the one giving it to you. Because there are plenty of professionals that lose their jobs and are out of luck. And therefore, in order to become aware and to maintain our happiness we have to pray to Hashem.

Li’hispallel – to make ourselves think. To become aware that He is listening. Ki atah shomei’ah tefilla. It’s very important to understand that He is listening. Ki atah shomei’ah tefillas amcha Yisroel bi’rachamim.  He listens to us with mercy. He wants to hear your voice. And therefore make it your business that He should hear your voice always.
TAPE # E-244 (October 2000)