The word “prayer” actually comes from the Latin word meaning “to beg” – exactly what many people feel prayer is. They imagine a big king in the sky who is getting a big ego boost from watching his subjects beg. This is a terrible image of our selves and of God.
I was once sitting and learning Torah with the Hollywood Actor, Kirk Douglas, when suddenly he turned to me and said, “You know, Rabbi, I love being Jewish.”
“Oh, yeah? Why?” I asked.
Imagine you walk into a magic store where they sell special flashlights equipped with magic lights of different kinds. For example, you can buy the light of science, and when you point that flashlight at your hand, you see not a hand, but cells and blood vessels and tendons and ligaments. Or you can buy the light of art, and you point that flashlight at your hand, you see your hand as if it were a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci – you see form, and color, and texture.