I'm almost embarrassed to write this. The point is so obvious.
We knew that friends of ours were hosting a fundraiser for President Bush. In fact we had even recruited some of the attendees. Regardless of their political affiliations, everyone wanted to go to say thank you. Thank you for being such a strong supporter of Israel.
But nothing in life is free and certainly not political events, especially when the President himself attends. We were unable to afford the price but hopeful that someone would invite us as their guests (ever the shnorrers).
After a few strategically dropped hints, the phone call came. We supplied our ID and we're on the list. Security will be very tight and we need to arrive early. I'm very excited. What does one wear to an audience with the President? (I don't own any flip flops so no danger of that faux pas.)
And then I stopped myself. What am I doing? What am I saying? I'm so thrilled to see the President. I'll be lucky to exchange any words with him. And surprised if he actually listens and replies.
Yet everyday I get an audience with the Creator of the world. Everyday I have the chance to speak to the King of kings. Everyday I stand before the Almighty.
Do I worry about how I look? (Better in my bathrobe than not praying at all I tell myself) Do I plan my precious words ahead of time? Do I focus on how I stand and how I will speak? Do I recognize what a precious gift this is, this daily communication with the Almighty? And it doesn't even require my social security number.
Most importantly of all, I know He's listening. Unlike the President who will smile politely before moving on to the next photo-op, the Creator of the world hears my prayers.
To get the ear of the President, it is necessary to contribute large sums of money. To get the ear of the Creator, we only have to speak, to open our mouths and hearts. He's not searching the room cocktail-party style for the next person to speak to; He's listening patiently to each of us. He's reveling in our joy and sympathizing with our sorrow.
And unlike the mumbled "thank you" I anticipate receiving from Mr. Bush, the Almighty gives us thoughtful answers, individually tailored responses.
I'm really glad we got invited to this event. Alright, partly because I'm curious to meet a sitting President of the United States, but mostly because of how it refocused me. In a way too obvious to be ignored, I was reminded of my daily opportunity, my daily gift.
Instead of experiencing prayer as an onerous obligation, I'm focusing on the excitement. Instead of rushing through, I'm taking slow advantage of this special time. Instead of housecoat and slippers, I'm dressed for the palace, alive and alert at the prospect of talking to the King of kings.
It's hard to maintain this focus. I know I'll backslide. But maybe I won't send that picture of me with Bush to my parents after all. I'll use it as tool to remind me Who's really in charge, Who I should really be excited to meet, and Who's actually looking forward to hearing from me.