Messianic Lifestyle - Prayer Pt. 3
How should our prayer be different as Messianics?
Prayer and Praise should be central in the life of any believer. Yet research shows this is not the case. The average Christian prays 30 seconds per day; the average Pastor prays 60 seconds. With a pray life that anemic, is it any wonder many believers lack power and a sense of G-d in their lives.
Prayer involves not only uttering words; but preparation , praise, and an intimate communication with Adonai. Let's look into the elements of Prayer.
Many from a Church background look with misunderstanding, and sometimes even contempt at the preparation involved in Jewish Prayer. There is little understanding as to why these prayers are said each day, often several times. Why the hand washing, the Tallit (Prayer shaw), and the Tefillin (bindings on head and arm). The fact that prayers are said often in Hebrew, and that they are formal written prayers leads to charges of legalism.
This unfortunate reaction is caused by lack of understanding. Prayers can be said in English, Russian, Hebrew, or any other language. Yet Hebrew is preferred due to 2 important factors: Most Jews regardless of country of residence, know the prayers in Hebrew, and the scripture most of the prayers quote or are derived from where written in Hebrew (G-d gave the scriptures (Tanakh) in Hebrew). Hebrew is also a common tie that binds the Community together (see Community below).
The Tallit and Tefillin server a distinct purpose in prayer. The act of putting them on places a person in an attitude of prayer. The steps involved are all scripturally based and in all likelihood the Messiah wore both Tallit & Tefillin. This emulation of the Messiah, and the purposeful preparation to approach El-Ohim helps a person focus on the importance of prayer, and of approaching the King of the Universe. We sometimes spend so much time thinking of G-d as "Daddy", that we forget He is King. When Yosef (Joseph) went from prison to Pharaoh did he not stop to bath and prepare to go before him? Should we respect G-d less than Pharaoh?
Additionally there are many prayers and Psalms readings that are preparation for saying the greatest of all prayers the Amidah & Shema. As there are also prayers in preparation for reading the Torah. These have been added as time has passed to prepare a person to step closer and closer to Adonai's presence in Prayer.
Perpetration to go into G-d's presence should not be confused with legalism. Preparation is a sign of tremendous respect for our Creator G-d and His Messiah.
The fixed pattern of prayer also has many confused. Yet this fixed pattern has many opportunities for individual expression and petitions. One primary goal of a fixed pattern is that it provides the basis to begin the communication with G-d. Think about it, how many times have we said, "I don't know how to pray", or "I don't know what to pray". A fixed pattern gets the prayer moving in the desired direction and opens the communication path. It also servers to cover all aspects of prayer. Many pray "G-d give me this, or do that", is that the proper attitude before our Creator? He knows our needs, and will supply them. Prayer is not asking for things, it is communication, praise, and fellowship with G-d.
One often cited complaint in fixed prayer is not "spiritual", or somehow less than spontaneous prayer? Really? Then why did Yeshua's Talmidim ask Him to teach them to pray? What was His response, a liturgical fixed prayer "Our Father who art in Heaven, Holy is your name". If fixed prayer was the model the Master used, it should be good for us also.
Jewish & Messianic Jewish Prayer incorporates both private and public prayer. Many prayers are designed to pray alone, but the majority are meant for community prayer. Community, like family, is taught, nurtured and strived for in the Jewish & Messianic Jewish faith. That is why most prayers are in the plural using our Father, our King; not singular my Father, My King.
Many prayers can only be recited aloud if 10 adults (bar Mitzvah age or older) are present. So why is this minyan (10) required (opening the Torah for reading out load at the Synagogue also requires 10 people)? The answer is simple; 10 represents a community of believers in the one true G-d. Many might be surprised that we actually count to make sure we have 10 on Friday nights (if a small crowd) in order to pray the Amidah. Is this legalism? No it is community!
Object of Prayer
This should be self-evident, but in fact it may cause some discomfort to people. Please consider these word's fully and verify if what is being said is true.
We should pray to Adonai in Yeshua's name, not to Yeshua. Yeshua Himself said to pray to the Father. All examples in scripture show praying to Adonai (the Father). Praying to Yeshua is not taught in scripture.
Yeshua made it clear, He came at the Fathers command, and did and said what the Father instructed. Yeshua totally submitted Himself to the Father. We should be very careful to follow His lead. Yeshua is part of G-d, He is not greater than the Father.
So, in summary, Messianic prayers leave room for spontaneous prayers, ; but are built around a liturgy that is 100's or 1000's of years old. Many of these prayers Yeshua said in the Synagogue and heard in the Temple. They are based fully on scripture and serve to encompass both praise and prayer to our El-Ohim. They encourage preparation to approach the King and involve not only the person but the entire community.
Blessings - Rabbi Gavri'el