Messianic Learning Feature Articles
Adonai, Teach Us To Pray
This Shofar article examines the teaching of Yahushuah to His disciples on how to pray. "But you, when you pray, enter into your closet (secret or private place), and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret, will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:6)
As opposed to Yahushuah's example of hypocrites who pray openly for attention (Matthew 6:5), His followers are instructed to go to a private location for one-on-one prayer time with YAH. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible translates the Greek word "tameion" (G5009) as "closet". Strong's Concordance notes it also means "storage or privacy, a spot for retirement, secret chamber and storehouse." Thayer's Greek – English Lexicon confirms "tameion" is "a storage chamber, storeroom and a secret room." In the KJV the Greek word "kruptos" (G2927) is translated as "secret." It means "concealed, that is, private: - hid (-den), inward [-ly]." Thayer describes "kruptos" to mean "hidden, concealed and secret."
Synagogues are known to be open, public places as opposed to prayer closets that are secret, private locations. So, we can surmise that Yahushuah prefers His disciples pray privately. Thus, when Bet Yeshurun Assembly (BYA) collectively prays for petitions and intercessions listed on our Prayer Board during services, we also allocate time for individual prayer. All present are encouraged to bow heads in prayer as they whisper their thoughts to Yah, loud enough for them to hear within their own mind. As we magnify our corporate prayer with simultaneous private ones, our concealed God (YAHUAH Elohim) hears from His hidden place. And, we trust that He answers our pleas openly for His praise, glory and honor during testimony times at BYA services.
Yahushuah then goes on to provide Believers with another example on how not to pray. He refers to the babbling prayer formats that are alien to the worship of the true Elohim. "But when you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen (pagans) do. For, they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Therefore, be not like them. For, your Father knows what things you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
The KJV translates "repetitions" from "battalogeō" (G945). According to Thayer's, it means "to repeat the same things over and over, to use many idle words, to babble, prate. Some suppose the word derived from Battus, a king of Cyrene, who is said to have stuttered; others from Battus, an author of tedious and wordy poems."
Don't confuse vain, repetitious prayers with asking for the same request repeatedly. Meditate upon the parable of the persistent widow. (Luke 18:1-8)
Consider also Yahushuah's words, "What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." (Mark 11:24)
Yahushuah then gives us a prayer model to follow: "Pray, therefore, in this manner: 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Let's examine this prayer: It opens by addressing and acknowledging the chief and essential parent of all mankind, "Our Father who art in heaven," and confirms the sacredness of this spiritual being's name, "hallowed be Your Name." In other words, the name of our Elohim is holy, set-apart, and held everywhere with proper reverence. BYA is encouraged to speak the name of YAHUAH Elohim. Declare to whom we pray, thereby, ensuring that all mighty ones of the spiritual and physical realms know whom we serve.
Next, Yahushuah instructs us to pray for the time when Elohim reigns supremely upon the earth, "Thy Kingdom come." This petition has the form of a worldly perspective. Yet, it can also take the form of a spiritual one as in asking YAH to be the ruler of our own heart and physical body as we pray for the coming time when Torah (Elohim's life-instructions) are effectuated and unchallenged upon earth and in heaven, "Your Will be done on earth as in heaven." In effect, this statement turns our prayer's purpose from a worldly into a divine one. "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, Your Will be done. " (Matthew 26:42)
The prayer continues, "Give us this day our daily bread," in recognition of our need for physical sustenance and more importantly for spiritual nourishing. In other words, we pray for daily instructions from YAH. We know that in scripture, bread symbolizes Yah's teachings. Bread is food. Without it we die. Likewise, if we eat polluted food, it may sustain us for awhile but eventually we get sick and die. We ask not only for food that won't pollute our body, but we ask for the truth which comes to us from Yah's teachings.
For the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the bread ("matstsoth") we eat has no leaven (yeast). Leaven symbolizes sin. In the bread that we eat, it typifies our physical body, being polluted with a substance that puffs us up with arrogance and pride. Paul encourages that we consume unleavened (sinless) teachings. "Therefore, let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Israelites in the wilderness ate matstsoth from heaven, and yet they physically died. Spiritual daily bread, however, is available to us from Yahushuah, baked with righteousness, thereby leaving it unleavened. "I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread, which comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever. The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:48-51)
We are to pray for this daily bread to sustain our spiritual life forever. "As the living Father has sent me and I live by the Father; so he who eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He who eats of this bread shall live forever." (John 6:57-58)
Then, Yahushuah teaches us to seek Yah's forgiveness and to forgive others. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In scripture, debt equals sin. "Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:4)
In asking to be forgiven of the times we failed to meet Yah's standards (trespasses, transgressions), we must also forgive those who wronged us: "When you stand praying, forgive, if you ought against any. So, that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25-26) Or, as this apocryphal book records, "Forgive your neighbor's injustice, then when you pray your own sins will be forgiven." (Sirach 28:2)
Our forgiveness toward others of the faith is to be unlimited as YAHUAH's mercy to us is limitless and undeserved. "Then came Peter to Him and said, "Adonai (Lord), how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him, until seven times?" Yahushuah said to him, "I say not to you, until seven times, but until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22) "Should a man nourish anger against his fellows and expect healing from YAHUAH? Should a man refuse mercy to his fellows, yet seek pardon for his own sins? If he who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? (Sirach 28:3-5)
Yahushuah's parable confirms why we are to act in love with forgiveness: "Then his lord, having called him, said to him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired it of me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on you? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So, likewise shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matthew 18:32-35) Can His important message be any clearer? "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15)
The Apostle James explains that we will see Yah reward human acts of forgiveness with divine acts of forgiveness at the Final Judgment. "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment." (James 2:13)
Finally, we are taught to pray not for trials but rather to be kept from them: "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." In other words, we ask Yah to protect us from Satan during the times of the messianic woes that will test and try the patience of saints. "I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil (Satan). (John 17:15) In Yahushuah we trust to strengthen and guard us from Satan. "But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil." (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
BYA's model prayer concludes by acknowledging that Elohim: (1) is King of all; (2) is all powerful and fully capable of realizing our petitions; and (3) is the only one worthy to be recognized for accomplishing our intercessions. "For Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen." Shalom, Elder Curt