Parashat Vaethanan- The Office is Always Open
Moshe Rabbenu tells Beneh Yisrael in Parashat Vaethanan, "Who is a great nation that has a God close to it Ė the way Hashem our God is close to us whenever we call out to him!" (4:7).
The message Moshe seeks to impress upon us is a simple one: the door to Godís office is always open. A Jew can turn to Hashem in prayer at any time, under any circumstances. Whether itís 3am on a cold, snowy winter night, or 3pm on a bright, balmy summer afternoon, we can speak to Hashem, and He will listen to us. "Hashem our God is close to us whenever we call out to him." His office hours are 24/7.
Of course, there are specific Halachot governing the three daily prayer services, and one is obligated to ensure that he recites these prayers at the proper times. But we must never make the mistake of thinking that the opportunity of Tefila is restricted to that timeframe. Hashem always wants to hear our prayers, around the clock. At any moment, we are welcome and encouraged to speak to Him and submit our requests. And if a person happens to miss a daily prayer, he should not despair. Hashem still wants to hear from him, no matter what. The door remains open at all times, even for those who have, unfortunately, missed an appointment.
This is not to say that our prayers are always answered precisely as we want. Parashat Vaethanan begins with Mosheís impassioned prayer for permission to enter Eretz Yisrael. The Sages teach that Moshe uttered 515 prayers, and yet, his request was denied. Nevertheless, each of those prayers was valuable. God did not stop Moshe after his first prayer, or after his first three hundred prayers, because he wanted him to continue praying. Even if a prayer is not answered precisely as the person intended, the prayer is still valuable. God stores all our prayers in a "prayer bank" in the heavens, and they are eventually pulled out and used to help us or somebody else in distress Ė sometimes even years, or even many generations, after the prayer was recited.
Godís door is always open, and it is always worthwhile to go in. He wants to hear our prayers, and every prayer is a priceless treasure, often in ways that we will never know.