The opening phrase of the Amida, the central prayer of the Jewish worship service, contains these words: “…our God and God of our fathers…” Why do we say “our God” first? Shouldn’t it be chronological? The reason for this is the reason that Rabbi Ben David wrote The Godfile: we must strive for a personal relationship with God before we can hope to fathom the relationship that our forbears had with the Almighty.
Ben David provides a template for creating a relationship with God. Part One acknowledges and explains the difficulty many people have feeling “spiritual” during services. He then introduces a set of exercises and tools to make prayer more personal and powerful. One such tool is the Godfile — a journal to record your thoughts and feelings about God and prayer.
Each chapter in Part Two opens with a quote about prayer from a great Jewish thinker, including philosophers, theologians, and Hassidic leaders. Ben David puts each quote into historical context, demonstrates how prayer informed that thinker’s approach to life, and suggests how readers can make it relevant to their own lives. The author also includes thought-provoking questions designed to inspire spirituality discussion groups or entries into your Godfile. Everything that is true for your relationship with God is also true for your relationship with other people, the author repeatedly reminds us.
The Godfile is a concise and practical guide for spiritual seekers of all denominations. Its only weakness is that it lacks the voice of any great female thinkers. Despite being marginalized, historically, from the formal Jewish prayer service, women have not been prevented from praying and writing. It would have been nice if Ben David had included the perspective of at least one of them.