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Principles of Jewish Prayer

Principles of Jewish Prayer

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Published by wilfredo torres
© 2014 The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies.
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© 2014 The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies.
All rights reserved

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Published by: wilfredo torres on Jun 19, 2014
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Principles of Jewish Prayer

Author: Dwight A. Pryor
PRAYER is a precious privilege and a sacred obligation, one that should be exercised,
cultivated and developed by every believer and community of faith. A study of Jeish
prayer can illuminate and enrich our understanding and practice of this !service of the
At the center of Jeish life and orship for millennia, prayer as foundational for
Yeshua and the Apostles, ho regularly orshiped at synagogues "#$ %:&'(&)* and
fre+uently ascended to the ,emple for the appointed times of prayer "Ac -:&*. .ndeed the
assemblies of the first church patterned themselves after the core features of teaching and
prayer that characteri/ed 0habbat synagogue services. 1elievers ould hear the Apostle2s
teaching and engage in "literally* !the prayers! "Ac 3:%3*.
,his last reference may ell be to the prevailing litany of Jeish prayers recited daily,
such as the tice(daily Shema "4t ):%(56 &&:&-(3&6 7u &':-8(%&* and the thrice(daily
Amidah "the 0tanding Prayer of eighteen benedictions*. ,he prayer Jesus taught his
disciples is considered by many scholars to be a condensed version of the Amidah.
,he great corpus of .srael2s devotional life from before, during and after the time of Jesus
as collected in the Siddur, the Jeish Prayer 1oo$. A thoughtful study of the Siddur
"such as the Authorized Daily Prayer Book by J.9. 9ert/* ill yield fruitful insights and
important principles that can expand our understanding and enliven our practice of
&. Jewish prayer eschews any form of magic or incantation. A magical orldvie,
unli$e the biblical one, operates on the premise that the cosmos is permeated by
impersonal poers and pantheistic forces that can be manipulated by esoteric
$noledge or repetitive techni+ues, such as repeatedly invo$ing a mantra or the
secret name of a deity. .n some church settings, the name :Jesus; is repeated
loudly, again and again (( as if invo$ing his name fre+uently or forcefully enough
ill achieve the desired result. Jesus himself arned against this $ind of :vain
repetition; "<t ):8 =J>*, typical of the heathens or gentiles.
3. Jewish prayer is reckoned as the service of the heart. .t is an outpouring of the
soul, in heart(to(heart, person(to(person communication ith the =ing of the
?niverse. 7ot some @orce or Poer but a Person created the cosmos A Bne ho
can be $non and addressed by name. ,hus praise, petition and than$sgiving
characteri/e Jeish prayer. ,he Siddur is suffused ith expressions of adoration,
affirmation, praise, celebration and than$sgiving to the #ord Cod of .srael.
-. Jewish prayer displays a keen sense of corporate identity. :Bur @ather, Bur =ing;
"Avinu, alkeinu* is a typical form of address. .ndeed, the full panoply of Jeish
prayers are recited in the context of a minyan "+uorum* at the synagogue,
reinforcing this aareness. ,his same sense of community consciousness is seen
in ,he #ord2s Prayer: :!ur @ather... Cive us daily bread... @orgive us our
trespasses... #ead us not into temptation... 4eliver us from the evil one...! "<t
):5(&-*. Personal praise and petitions surely have their place in prayer "consider
4avidDs Psalms, for instance*. 1ut in <essiah Yeshua e have been Eoined to a
covenant community of the faithful, even as fello citi/ens of the commonealth
of .srael. Bur prayers should reflect this corporate aareness and continually
remind us of our collective responsibilities.
%. Jewish prayer focuses on the "ingdom of #od. ,he 0ages ere not so
preoccupied ith material needs as e in the Fest. ,hey ere consumed ith a
passion for .srael and indeed all the nations to submit to the =ingship of Cod and
9is redemptive reign. ,hey earnestly petitioned for the ic$ed to be pulled don
and for Cod2s righteousness to prevail, for salvation and Eustice to roll don li$e a
mighty river. ,hey longed for the day hen the #ord ould be one and 9is name
one in all the earth, hen the hole orld ould recogni/e the true and living
Cod of Abraham, .saac and Jacob as =ing, and abide by 9is ill. .t is no
coincidence then that this same passion burns at the heart of the prayer Jesus
taught his disciples: $!ur %ather... &hy "ingdom come, &hy will 'e done(
.n our next column e ill explore more principles of Jeish Prayer.
G 3H&% ,he Ienter for Judaic(Ihristian 0tudies.
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