Lesson 2: Introduction to Jewish Prayer Part 2
Jewish prayer consists of Praise, Requests and Thanksgiving and the morning prayer takes about 45 minutes to pray. Gidon explains that this morning prayer is like a journey to climb a mountain. In this lesson Gidon introduces us to the various sections that comprise the morning prayer and tells us what happens at the peak of the mountain.
Bob’s Application: I am struck by two references to Jewish community in this lesson. The first is the fact that the entire Jewish community uses the same prayers. In Christianity we do have the well known and very respected Book of Common prayer, but the idea that all Christians would not only have in their possession the same prayer book AND come together to pray from this book is something hard to imagine. How God has preserved the Jews that they could pray in unison the exact same prayers even today!! As Christians, what we do have that our Jewish friends do not is a strong focus on extemporaneous prayers. While they can be wonderfully appropriate and beautiful, they are certainly harder to pray well. Thank God for all the times that the Sprit that helps us find the right words. But there is something beautiful I see in the single set of prayers prayed within the Jewish community, which have been standardized since about 869CE when the first Jewish Prayer books were actually written, copied by hand, and distributed widely.
When I think of the Christian community praying together in unison, I think of the Lord’s Prayer. It is certainly our single most commonly prayed prayer. It remains special and meaningful to me, even fresh and alive still after all these many years of praying it. It is so very short, but like Jewish prayer it has a structure and flow to it. And did you notice what Gidon said about the Jewish prayers at the “peak of the mountain” the 18 Blessings of Amidah? He said they pray them as ‘we prayers’. So the peak of the Jewish journey is a transition to a shared peak – just like the Lord’s Prayer transitions to an ‘us prayer’ half way thru. This week when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, maybe we should try to remember that Jews are praying in community too! And if we wanted to go even farther still, we could enlarge our view for what comprises the ‘us’ and ‘we’ in the Lord’s Prayer to include Jews in these words as we pray them…
….Give US this day our daily bread, and forgive US our trespasses, as WE forgive those who trespass against US, and lead US not into temptation but deliver US from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and power and the glory forever! Amen.