Daily Devotional

Our Sacred Sanctuaries

August 17, 2023 - 12:00 am

This Devotional's Hebrew Word


“May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.” — 1 Kings 8:29

Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are—not what God does. These devotions focus on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers.

Many people struggle to connect to organized prayer services at a house of worship. After all, when you pray at prescribed times and places, using someone else’s words, how meaningful can it be?

Surprisingly, King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the First Temple echoed these sentiments: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). The man who built the Temple understood that God could not be confined to a structure. If God is everywhere, what was the purpose of the Temple?

Solomon prayed that God would turn His focus more to the Temple than other places. God may not exist more in specific places, but that does not mean that He is equally accessible to us everywhere. God is no less present in a crowded subway station than at a serene lake, but most people find it easier to connect in the quieter, more beautiful atmosphere.

Our Sacred Sanctuaries

Human beings also have the power to impact a space through our actions. When people come together in prayer, a physical space is elevated. The Western Wall is not only sacred because the Temples once stood there, but also because people have been pouring out their hearts to God at that site for thousands of years.

When the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish people were in crisis. In an innovative decision that shaped Judaism forever, the sages declared that houses of worship would replace the Temple. While God does not exist more in a synagogue—or a church—He is more accessible there.

When people come together to communicate with the Divine, a door to Heaven is opened. When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he laid the foundations for our sacred sanctuaries that connect us to the Master of the Universe and each other.

Your turn: Pay attention to how your environment shapes your prayer experience. Try praying together in a house of worship with other people.


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