They live in America. The father spoke English with a very thick Russian accent. The boy was born in America. When they finished saying the Shema the father quickly began to take off the tefillin. It was a meaningless act for him. I jumped in to try to stop him but he argued,
"I gotta go! People are waiting for me over there."
"You came all the way from America. You can take one minute to pray. Put your hand on the boy's head and repeat after me."
I had him say the blessing that fathers say for their children and to add what he personally wants Hashem to give to the boy. Then I told him, "Tell him that he has to marry only a Jewish girl." The father laughed and agreed.
I explained, "When you fulfill a commandment, especially at the Kotel, it opens a spiritual opportunity. It's as if G-d is listening to you with both ears. Picture everyone you love one at a time with light on their faces and smiling, and ask G-d to bless them. Then thank Him for all the good that he has done for you… and ask Him to protect the Jews in danger."
It worked. They followed the instructions and stood there for a long time praying. You can see from the picture that they were sincere, and because of that they finally spoke to Hashem from their hearts and felt that warmth. Those few minutes of talking to Hashem in their hearts were the highlight of their entire visit.
Not just tefillin... but with every mitzvah there comes a "Time of Favor"…a time when Hashem listens more favorably to all of our prayers.