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Asking for God's Help

In addition to asking for the ability to help others, Yavez is also not afraid to ask for God's hand to be with him. He does not fear dependence on God. He asks for God's company. He is a man who is not alone because God is with him. Jews don't talk about God a lot. Dependence on God seems quaint or outdated. But not for Yavez. He knows that he must count on God's help. At a low point in Wilkinson's life, he seeks the counsel of a former teacher who says to him, "…the second you're not feeling dependent is the second you've backed away from truly living by faith."

The last message of the prayer is the way that God helps us by protecting us from evil and keeping us from causing pain. Mitzvot, good will and intentions followed by action, move us further from evil and remind us that we are not to cause harm to others. Our job on earth is to partner with God to remove misery and injustice from the world, and we need God's help to achieve those lofty ambitions.

Perhaps more than the words, Yavez, a biblical character you may never have heard of until today, shows us that prayer need not be lengthy to be meaningful and that dependence on God does not mean losing the self. It may actually mean enlarging the self.

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Erica Brown

Dr. Erica Brown is the Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning and consults for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She is an author-winning author and the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award. Erica has served as an adjunct professor at American University and George Washington University. She lectures on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership.