The Power of the Modeh Ani

This morning, it was freezing cold and pitch black when I woke up. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and brave another day, in a life where I had begun to feel increasingly exhausted, run-down and alone. The thought of emails to answer, articles to write, and deadlines to meet filled me with panic; I felt as if concrete blocks were being piled on top of me, except these metaphorical blocks were the trials and responsibilities of life. As my mind started racing, I stopped, and said the Modeh Ani– the prayer which we say as soon as we wake up each morning, thanking G-d for the gift of life.

“I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”

After I said these words, and I went about my day, I started thinking about what exactly they meant. Often, Jewish prayers talk about our faithfulness in G-d. We bless Him and tell Him how great our trust in Him is. But the Modeh Ani turns this around, and we say “Your faithfulness [in us] is great”. In that moment, I was struck by just how inspiring this notion is. We’re reminding ourselves that G-d has faith in us, too; faith to spread light; faith to do mitzvos; faith to get out of that bed, step into the cold, dark world, and make it a better place than it was when we went to sleep last night.

I struggle. Like every human on this earth, there are times when I don’t want to carry on. Times when I err and feel my faith slipping away. Times when, upon waking up to another cold, dark day, I feel unable to go through the motions of productivity and progress. My inner voice tells me to just stay put, to let the world change around me, and my outer voice- my desire to serve G-d- dispels these thoughts with the Modeh Ani. You can do it, I tell myself. You can get up and change the world, because it isn’t going to change without you. G-d created me for a reason, that much I know. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov tells us that the day we were born was the day that G-d decided that the world could not exist without us- and even when I’m at my lowest point, a part of me knows that this is true.

And so, on those bleak, dreary mornings, I’m not going to lie in bed, listening to the rain on the rooftop and contemplating what’s wrong with my life. I’m going to say the Modeh Ani and throw myself into the challenges of the day ahead- because I know that no matter what I come up against, Hashem has faith in me to overcome it, and serve Him with love and trust.


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