I never really understood prayer until I was in about sixth grade. I discovered the power of prayer in a place that is still incredibly special to me today. At my camp, we have a prayer space that is surrounded by trees, and if one closes their eyes, all of the people and the problems drift away. Prayer isn't easy. It requires the putting into words thoughts that we don't speak out loud. It's not an easy way of solving problems; it isn't a cop-out answer, it's a comfort. Prayer helps me to ground my mind when things are out of my control. Prayer helps me to make decisions. Prayer is the reason that I believe in God. Prayer is how I express my faith. It doesn't work for everybody, but it does work for me.
I'm pretty skeptical of miracles, as anyone who has read my D'var Torah on Lech L'cha could tell you, but I think that faith is a pretty powerful thing. People and nature and hundreds of other agents make things happen, but nonetheless, it's important for us to have faith in one another and in the world itself. Every person is created in God's image and should be treated as such. I've been asked why have faith in something that I cannot be sure of i.e. we can't see God (I disagree with this, but that's a whole other blog post). To that, I call forward the term of Soren Kierkegaard: "leap of faith." Kirkegaard believed that faith couldn't really be faith if it was knowledge, and I agree with this. We take a "leap of faith" every time that we trust someone with a small part of ourselves or share love with someone else. As soon as we reach outside of ourselves, we are putting our faith in other people, which is where it belongs.
No matter how cynical I may seem about politics or the state of the world, I will balance that cynicism out with a heaping dose of faith. Faith in God's work; faith that things someday will get better; faith that America will use the democratic system to elect a good president. And most of all, I have faith in the wonderful people who surround me; my mentors, my friends, my family.