I’m offering two things for your reading today. First, I want to pass on a thought about Messianic Jewish prayer that made an impact on me at this year’s Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations conference (umjc.net). Then I want to offer a prayer that came out of a sermon I am writing on Revelation 4. Maybe you will use the prayer. You can see my sermons (with a few week delay after I deliver them) at hopeofdavid.com.
Rabbi Michael Schiffman was speaking on Messianic Jewish prayer. He noted that many people have trouble integrating the Siddur (Jewish prayer book) with their faith in Yeshua. For some, years of praying in evangelical churches before coming into Messianic Judaism causes a disconnect. Evangelical prayer is generally spontaneous and has its own unwritten liturgy (e.g. begin with and frequently repeat your traditional prayer title for God (e.g. Lord God), end with “in Jesus’ name, amen!”).
The evangelical praying the Siddur finds it difficult that the prayers do not reference Yeshua directly. It almost seems they are not real prayers. For many, the Siddur’s use in the service is part of the Jewish flavor spread thin over the service. The real prayers are when we depart from the Siddur and pray spontaneously in Jesus’ name (or in Yeshua’s name).
For others, an uncomfortable relationship with the Siddur can be summed up by the simple question: where is Yeshua in it?
Rabbi Schiffman said something that went inside my spirit and stuck, enhancing my prayer life ever since. In Messianic Jewish doctrine, Yeshua is God the Son, part of the total being of God. He is the Word who was with and who is God (Jn 1:1). He is the first and the last (Isa. 41:4 compare Rev. 1:17). When we pray to HaShem, we are praying to Yeshua along with the Father and Spirit. Yeshua is right in the Siddur. We praise the Creator in the Siddur and we are praising Yeshua. We exalt the King and we are exalting King Messiah along with our Father in Heaven who is King over all.
A mature Messianic Judaism finds Yeshua in Judaism. Immature Messianic Judaism sees it as Judaism with Yeshua added. Let this principle guide our prayer life and let the Siddur richly bless our prayer.
Now, for a prayer. I was meditating on Revelation 4:1-11, which I am speaking on this Shabbat. Early in my thoughts I struggled with this sermon. I was busy and had little time to think. What kept occurring to me was, “People want application, not just theology in a sermon. The concept of God’s throne is more theology than application. How will I do a good job of bringing the throne of God into daily life?”
My creative processes were not yet going. Then I had an experience of God that can only result from driving alone in a car (for rare silent time) and listening to one of my favorite poet-musicians (Keith Green). The details of how I was able to connect with God do not matter, but the point is that we all need to get some silent time apart from the usual distractions.
As I began thinking, I started writing (not while I was driving, though I’ve done that before). At the end of some writing, a prayer came to mind. I offer it for whatever it is worth. Perhaps you would like to pray it along with me:
God of Israel, you are the Mighty King.
You rule the Cosmos and you are Master of my life.
I am not innocent before you.
Have mercy, my King.
I am not wise with your wisdom.
Show me your way, my King.
I am not entitled to blessing and peace.
Grant me undeserved blessing, my King.
I cannot save myself and the world.
Send your Messiah, my King.