Bible enthusiast from Perth, Western Australia asks, “How do Messianic Jews pray? How does it differ from the Evangelical Movement?”
To Messianic Jews, prayer is not an act or a deed; it’s a lifestyle with a hopeful promise.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Messianic Judaism has come a very long way. Initially, many of the prayers that were exerted within our synagogues were really not too dissimilar to what you would observe among many Christian Evangelical congregations; however, that longing passion in wanting to learn Hebrew and saying the exact same prayers other synagogues (e.g., Orthodox, Reform) were doing remained within us all and gave rise to a lifestyle that is now unique and makes us distinguishable as true modern day disciples of Messiah Yeshua. In fact, we do not doubt that we're engaged in a prayerful lifestyle similar to the very one Yeshua himself partook in during his ministerial service here on the earth some two thousand years ago.
But before mentioning the existing differences that lay between Christian Congregations and Messianic Congregations, I would first like to point to your attention the similarities.
Like our brothers and sisters in the faith, we endeavor to have that personal relationship with the Heavenly Father by engaging in prayer before participating in various activities. For example, we pray together as a family before parting ways and going to school, work or anything of the sort. We also go into prayer when we're in desperate need of the Heavenly Father's guidance in making a very serious decision. We pray before we eat just as much as we pray before we read the Word. To Messianic Jews, prayer is essential in our lives.
Even though we love to engage ourselves in prayer with one another, we often think about what life may have been like when Messiah walked the face of the earth! We love Yeshua so much, that we think about, "What DID he do? How DID he do it?" Thus, we tend to engage in serious historical, biblical, and anthropological research in hopes of restoring the ancient biblical ways of the First Century Believers. In fact, our passion for Messiah is what drives us to live the biblical lifestyle that we implement.
It's important that our friends understand that there's an entire spectrum in how Messianic Jews pray. There are Messianic Jews who know very little Hebrew and can only say few short Hebrew terms. Equally the same, there are native Hebrew speakers who live in Israel and pray at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall. In other words, there's an entire wide range in the manner by which Messianic Jews engage in prayer. At both ends, there are those who pray similar to how Christian Evangelicals pray (i.e., to include speaking in tongues) just as well as there are those who pray similar to Orthodox Jews, the distinguishing factor between Messianic Jews and Christian Evangelicals.
This is where the difference starts to take notice and prayer literally becomes a lifestyle and not just a mere act.
Whenever a Bible enthusiast begins to research the Bible and start connecting the dots, many tend to gravitate to a Jewish form of worship. Why? Well, because the biblical authors were Jewish! These Bible enthusiasts began to learn each letter of the Hebrew alphabet just so that they could pick up a siddur and pray in Hebrew.
Siddur is Hebrew for prayer book. In the siddur, there's an order of prayers that are recited (either completely in Hebrew or a culmination of Hebrew and the host language) during congregational meetings. Though someone who's completely unfamiliar to our cultural practices might reason that our communities are simply caught up in vain cultural traditions, these prayers are in fact biblical verses that were placed in a specific order that would make the most sense to whomever is engaged in reciting these biblical passages.
Every once in a while, we recite poetic prayers that even Moses and the children of Israel sang as they were being delivered by the might hand of the Heavenly Father. Then again, we might recite the beautiful Psalms of King David in his own native tongue! We even pray the very prayer that Messiah Yeshua instructed his disciples to pray, "Our Father." We recite these prayers because the act helps us have that sense of connection to our ancient biblical past and continues to give us hope to one day meeting Messiah face to face as he leads us to worship Elohim.
The exquisite feature that Messianic Jews have that a lot of people do not know about is that when we pray from the siddur, we're actually praying the exact same prayers that were once prayed in Jerusalem's Temple at that very precise moment prior to the slaying of the animal sacrifices. To add, Yeshua himself engaged in reciting these prayers before he would begin to teach (or preach) at either the synagogues and even the Temple grounds! In other words, anyone who attends a Messianic Jewish Synagogue that recite these liturgical prayers straight out of the Siddur is literally traveling back into time to attend a service as if though Yeshua himself was listening and praying with the entire community.
To Messianic Jews, liturgical prayers remind us of the Temple service. It reminds of the sacrifice placed on the altar. It reminds us of how Yeshua provided the way for us to come near to the Heavenly Father and present our petitions to the Creator Himself. To Messianic Jews, prayer is about having that spiritual, biblical and cultural connection to our biblical past without all the stuff that got right in between.
There's a lot that we can say about prayer; however, we would like to end with these few words.
Some reason to believe that prayer is about coming up with a wish list and telling G-d what it is that you want without putting any effort into achieving these goals. To Messianic Jews, this is not what prayer means to us. Prayer is about taking a moment of our lives, reflecting upon what the Bible says and figuring out where we're falling short and where we're excelling at. In fact, prayer is about recognizing all the great and wonderful things that the Heavenly Father is leading us towards and thanking Him for what He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. It's the way where we engage ourselves and allow prayer to be our lifestyle and not just some random act.
© 2014 by Nehr HaOlam Publications.
Winslow, New Jersey, USA
All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
For more information, contact NehrHaOlam@gmail.com.
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