Imagine you have a job and you work hard. After some time you think to yourself, "I deserve a raise!" You have been a loyal and valuable employee, and you feel the time is right. Do you barge into the office of the boss and demand a raise? Unlikely.
First, you mind your work ethic and behavior. You make sure that you are working at prime efficiency. At every opportunity, leading up to asking for the raise, you make sure that your performance shines. Afterall, while the boss may judge you on your overall work, for sure they will take notice of the all extra effort that you are putting in.
When I go over this scenario with a group of people, I see lots of folks nodding their heads in agreement. It's not too far-fetched. Whether we want to admit this or not, many of us will behave this way -- on a conscious or unconscious level.
When we experience challenges in our lives -- maybe it's poor health, financial shortfalls, or personal loss -- one of the ways that we cope, seek solutions and strength is through prayer.
We call out to God asking for help. And the more we need -- the louder we cry.
And God hears our prayers.
Then what happens? While simplified, our sages teach us that God is the Boss of Bosses. The ultimate Boss, Who first begins by examining our lives.
Are they performing up to their abilities?
Are they making time for a spiritual life?
Have they spoken with their parents, given charity, or lost their temper today?
Are they growing and improving, becoming a better person, or are they stagnant?
Are they wasting time on the job of life chasing after vanities, or are they investing their time into meaningful pursuits?
We can't expect that God will immediately answer our needs, when we've consistently ignored our "job". We have a sacred mission, and each day is precious, and there is much to accomplish.
One of the fundamental tenets of belief is that God runs the world. God is truly the Boss of Bosses. Since we never know just when God is going to challenge us, it pays to always be ready for a performance review.
In other words, a "guaranteed way to get a raise," the experience additional blessing in our lives, is to be deserving of it already.