The Prayer of the Nations to Our Father

praying aloneAs just about anyone involved in some form of Judaism or in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movements knows, the High Holy Days are coming up on us fast.

Of course this season may not have the same application upon Gentile believers as upon the Jewish people. “ProclaimLiberty,” who often comments here, said (I think) that perhaps Sukkot might be the better time for a Gentile to make teshuvah given our understanding of Zechariah 14:16-19.

I’ve also been giving some thought to prayer, particularly after reading Rabbi Kalman Packouz’s commentary on Ki Tavo. The vast majority of what he’s written could as easily apply to the Gentile as to the Jew apart from his recommending the Artscroll Siddur.

Many non-Jewish Messianics use such a siddur for prayer and I have myself in the past, but there are a lot of pitfalls to avoid, such as any section that refers to the person praying as “Israel” or otherwise  to being Jewish.

After all, we’re not Jewish.

As far as I know, there is no such thing as a Messianic Siddur just for Gentiles and there’s a simple reason for that. Most Gentile Messianics worship corporately with Jews, at least in some congregations. It would make spoken group prayer impossible to manage if the Jews were using a siddur worded very much differently from the Gentiles praying nearby.

However, even one Orthodox Rabbi advises that Gentiles can use an Orthodox Siddur as long as they avoid employing any of the language or prayers specifically set aside for Jews.

He also says that Gentiles are exempt from the obligations for prayer applied to a Jew. He states that we (or at least Noahides) aren’t obligated to specifically worded prayers or particular times of prayer. He suggests that maybe the Psalms (from a reliable Orthodox Jewish publishing company…probably as opposed to how he considers Christian Bibles) would make a good “book of prayer” for Noahides.

Something similar (I think) has been suggested by the Messianic Jewish community such as how Gentiles are allowed to pray at the specific times of prayer but are not actually obligated to do so. In other words, we can adopt the praxis but it’s not commanded of us.

That’s not to say we should not pray or that God doesn’t expect us to pray. In Rabbi Packouz’s commentary for Nitzavim-Vayelech, he states in part, citing The Book of Our Heritage, that:

In the Providence section we proclaim our understanding that: 1) the Creator has a one on one relationship with every human being 2) God cares about what we do with our lives and sees and remembers everything 3) there are Divine consequences for our actions.

To bring a tighter focus on the main point, he says “the Creator has a one on one relationship with every human being.” If that’s true, then the Almighty has made provision to interface with and connect to every individual human being, including you and me.

Sometimes in the Messianic world, we Gentiles get so hung up on Judaism that we forget we also have a specific invitation to pray to God as Gentiles.

On another blog where I write fiction, my latest chapter in a time travel series sends one of my protagonists back to the time of King Solomon and the dedication of the Temple. The most relent portion of that for “the rest of us,” is this:

“Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.

1 Kings 8:41-43 (NASB)

It wasn’t since just the time of Rav Yeshua that Gentiles could communicate with God through prayer. It was an expectation from the very beginning. After all, who were Adam and Havah (Eve) and their children and their children’s children? Who were Noah and his family, and until being declared a “Hebrew,” who was Abraham?

I belong to a private Facebook group dedicated to “Unchurched Christians” or believers who have left the organized church but who continue to have a faith. The public website is Unchurching.com.

I’m not particularly involved in its content and joined mainly because I think it’s an interesting idea and also because not only am I unaffiliated with a congregation, I am likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

I was listening to Christian radio again on my commute home from work (I know…right?) and the Pastor was referring to a passage in John’s Gospel where Jesus was talking about the Church. The what? The sermon just reminded me of (in my opinion) what a massive disconnect mainstream Christianity has from what the Bible actually says since nothing called “church” existed in that place and time.

One of the Pastor’s points was that a Christian cannot subsist apart from the organized Church anymore than your hand could continue living if it were amputated from the rest of your body.

I don’t know about that. I have to believe continuing in relative isolation must be possible. After all, Richard Jacobson, who used to be a full-time Pastor in a church before quitting all of that and starting an online community for “Unchurched Christians” seems to believe otherwise, and more and more relationships are conducted online as we continue to rely on the internet for our extended social contacts.

Besides all that, God isn’t hiding. We don’t have to go to a church or synagogue to find Him. He’s there with us. If that weren’t true, He wouldn’t or couldn’t hear our prayers if we weren’t in a house of worship.

The one big flaw in my analysis, going back to Solomon, was his statement about a Gentile coming and praying toward the Temple, implying close proximity rather than merely facing in the direction of Jerusalem where ever you might be on Earth.

But I can’t help that and I do not intend to take Solomon quite so literally. Also, “church” isn’t the Temple, that is, the unique physical location where the glory of God appears physically.

God is accessible to us, Jew and Gentile alike. Yeah, I’ve said it before. We don’t belong formally to the Covenants, New or otherwise. We as non-Jews are wholly dependent on God’s mercy and grace, His desire and will that all human beings come to Him.

tears of repentanceBut that is His will, it’s what the Bible actually says, even though the vast majority of its content was written by and for the Jewish people.

While the High Holy Days may not have a direct application on the Gentile believer, Messianic or otherwise, it can serve us as a reminder that God also wants the people of the nations to make teshuvah and turn toward Him. What’s the harm if we actually accept His offer? In fact, what benefits might we discover the Almighty bestowing upon us if we do pray to our Father in Heaven?

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15 thoughts on “The Prayer of the Nations to Our Father”

  1. Even when the last of the Scriptures was written expressing what would lead up to and happen at the time of the Day of Jacob’s trouble, no one foresaw gathering together as being an electronic experience. However, it doesn’t make it less valid, just less personal.

    I tire of being told what I can and cannot do or should and should not do by people who know nothing of my circumstances, and who have no perceivable understanding outside of their rote learning at a Seminary or Yeshiva, where questions and independent thinking are not allowed.

    The lack of independent thought being absent from the church and the synagogue…the rules of the community being taken as G-d given, and thus valid for all peoples is doubtful. We are not Noahides, and most of us do not seek to be or act Jewishly, yet because we have a connection with Abba through the Ruach haKodesh in Yeshua’s grace, why are we obeying instructions that limit us to what others want us limited to?

    All of the Scriptures may have been written down by Jews for Jews prior to Yeshua’s advent, but they are G-d’s words, and Yeshua told the Apostles to take the Torah, and the good news about the Kingdom to all the world, and make disciples. That, to me, overrides the idea that the Torah is only for the Jews.

  2. In the year that I was born, on the day, it was Yom Kippur. My Jewish friends always told me that I was specially blessed to be born so. As this is my borning week, and the holiday approaches, I think of the teaching Rebi David shared with me about that day, and incorporate it into my prayers. I read here you have mentioned prayers set aside for only one people… it doesn’t sit well with me. See, in my little Goy understanding of scripture, prayer is for everyone. God – Ywh- Jehovah (whatever you chose to call the Almighty) does not say that He will only hear prayers from certain people. He hears ALL prayers, ALL the time, from ALL people. I will be saying prayers for Yom Kippur, and I will not be looking to see whether or not ‘man’ has decided I’m allowed to pray. Shalom, my friend, shalom!

  3. “One of the Pastor’s points was that a Christian cannot subsist apart from the organized Church anymore than your hand could continue living if it were amputated from the rest of your body.”

    That’s funny as your earlier statements point out G-d’s lack of expectation for anything physical or temporal from Gentiles. I suppose if Christians caught wind of this bleak truth the religion called Christianity would find itself with no leg to stand on, unable to require anything of anyone ever again.

  4. In an ideal world Q, we’d all have face-to-face fellowship, but the world of faith and religion is just as divisive as any other part of human discourse or interaction, more so perhaps. For a variety of reasons, many of us are left without a sense of physical community and, in the most extreme cases, we are left alone in a “room” with God. Maybe that’s where we should start.

  5. I don’t think I said that Gentiles can’t pray. What I did say is that in using a Jewish siddur, if we choose to employ one in our prayer life, we should refrain from referring to ourselves as “Israel” or being “called out from the nations” since we aren’t Israel and we are part of the nations. This isn’t to say we aren’t called to be “called out,” but we are called out from a world of secular living, where we do what we want because we want it rather than serving the desires of God. Of course, we pray. We pray all the time. After all, I did post a quote from I Kings regarding how Solomon addressed the “foreigner” who directed prayers toward the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

  6. Hopefully I wasn’t that extreme. Obviously God has behavioral expectation of Gentiles. Making teshuvah, permanently turning away from our sins and back to Hashem is certainly behavior. Being kind to others is certainly behavior. Prayer is certainly behavior. Reading and studying scripture is certainly behavior.

    We spend each day of our lives in drawing closer to God, or we should be. I’m not always very good at it, and sometimes it takes a good swift kick in the pants to remind me of what I need to be doing rather than what I’ve been engaged in. What I did say is that, based on Acts 15, we are not expected to take on the full yoke of Jewish praxis. It doesn’t mean we can’t daven at the set times of prayer, but (probably) we don’t absolutely have to.

    I know Toby Janicki and FFOZ are promoting their publication of the Didache as a roadmap of Gentile praxis in Jewish (or even non-Jewish) Messianic community. Authorities differ as to how much we should believe the Didache really was crafted by the Apostles or by their disciples, but I suppose it’s a place to start. It probably wouldn’t be the place I would start, but things have become rather muddled since James and Just and the Elders and Leaders of the Jerusalem Council issued their legal decree way back when.

    It’s not about if we should behave “Jewishly” or how much we should adopt Jewish praxis, it’s about drawing closer to the Living God. I know that keeps my plate pretty full.

  7. On a simple, communal level, I fail to understand all the fuss about speaking the words of a Jew in prayer as a Gentile participant. Is it really so bad to have Gentiles praying alongside Jews, and uttering prayers which are personalized to Jews within the Mosaic covenant, when such words are uttered in concert with, and in harmony with the Jewish people? To me, this represents the spirit of Acts 15 in a beautiful way, and not in a fashion that somehow marginalizes Jewish identity or distinction. I think it’s much hand-wringing over absolutely nothing, all to placate the sensitivities of some uptight conservationists.

  8. I suppose it depends on who you are. I know my wife, who is Jewish, would probably take exception if I recited the prayers in the siddur (out loud at least) that would give the impression I’m Jewish when I’m not. Oh, she’s not a believer and has nothing at all nice to say about Paul, so using the Acts 15 argument wouldn’t terribly impress her.

    To further respond, I’d have to say that it would depend on the tolerance of the Jewish participants. Having gone down that path more than once, my current response is to act with caution, especially online where the “religious wars” have gotten pretty heated, at least historically.

    I’ve been waiting for “ProclaimLiberty” to chime in here since he’s Jewish, Messianic, lives in Jerusalem, and is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in this, and many other areas. His perspective, at least in my experience, is somewhat unique.

    That said, I can’t tell you how others think and feel, only what I think and feel, David.

  9. Yes, that’s reasonable. I’m familiar with “Proclaim Liberty” and have engaged with him in discussions before on topics such as this and I agree with you. I would suspect he would side with your wife. 🙂

  10. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, an additional information on the Church of God terminology which the world religion misunderstood the true teaching of Yeshua M. But don’t just use your decoding formulated by some gentile christian scholars and unqualified Israelites. But it is much better to just check it directly from the original proposed prophetical plan which God have made and given to prophet Moses in Duet. 18:18.. (note: from this God’s word message, thou could easily check the very truth of the God Plan which was  corrupted by many). So, in verse 18, ” i will raise them up a prophet (note: the plurality of the prophet that will be raise up, which the world do not know and even Yeshua M. was rejected) from among their bretheren like unto thee (note the Testamented Word to the Covenantal Israelites). And i will put my word into his mouth and he will speak unto them all that i shall command him” (Note: see how the Word of God will only pass through the mouth of the prophet, like unto SPEAKER ONLY. And not like to the teachings of the gentile world and some Israelites that the Word of God become into a literal man). When this was already sample by God in the burning bush tree, were the voice of God came out. And Moses did not taught to glorify the tree and this is the same to the prophet.

    Now with all this fact, can not anyone conclude the many mistakes or wrong translation were made in the NT gospel that resulted it into many false believe teachings in the world! But with a little knowledge of the truth context of this Plan of God to Yeshua M., he is not mistaken in executing the Universal Final Judgment to all the gentile nations since 1st Century in Mt. 25:31-41! And what for to the Messianic Covenant or Christianity that already took end since last 1993, and none ever knew this event. Which reveals to the great mortality of the many false believers.

    And we are already in the Parousia or 2nd Advent or the Hour Judgment of God, which is the Ultimate Covenant Last Call of God that begun last 1994 to date. And non of all the religion knew this also, in spite of our many information to it, so they may update their faith knowledge. And the reason, they did not seriously read the whole Holy Bible especially the NT gospel that kept the whole revelation for one’s salvation! So we will just sight some example of Yeshua M. advices that was written ever since his 1st Advent glory and it is still applicable to date. And the first and the Last Advice is in Mt. 28:20, “to teach them to observe all things whatsoever i have commanded you.” And in Jn. 5:20-30, calling all the believers in the religion (or graveyard) TO COME OUT AND HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.. And in Jn. 9:4, “night cometh when no man can work.” Which mean, when this Night Covenant or 2nd Advent comes, nobody can help others welfare faith or just help yourself to save yourself! And to A. Paul advice in Heb. 9:28, just read it. And its very clear, Christ will only appear to those believers without sin, and this is in heaven, as A. Paul wrote in 1Tes. 4:16-17 “that those believer without sin shall be caught by the cloud and brought to heaven to meet the Lord.” So, now its  your turn to search for other advices that may help to assist for your salvation.
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE : New Jerusalem – Holy City

  11. Sorry, James, I was having a really bad brain day yesterday and read it wrong. Thanks for being more specific, though. “Pray unceasingly”…I can never remember the address, but I do try to practice that concept in my daily living. Even more so this past weekend… running on no sleep, I shouldn’t be out trying to read anything.

  12. Hi, James — I’ve been preoccupied with police business the past couple of days, so I haven’t read the comments here until now. I think you’ve pretty much said what’s needed, and I have nothing to add. You’ve previously covered the explanation about gentiles not usurping Jewish identity by falsely praying words that don’t apply to them, and FFOZ offers some alternative phrasings that are more appropriate.

  13. What I find intereating, James, is that the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common Prayer has prayer set up four times a day – morning, noon, evening, and compline. I don’t have access to a Catholic prayer book, but I suspect it’s similar. This seems to indicate that in the beginning of the split from Judaism, we Gentiles closely followed the same practices as the Jews.

    There is some verbage that I realize is not in agreement with Torah, but far less than what comes from non-denominational churches. And in the Order for Evening (page 113) it reads:
    ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, creator of the changes of day and night…’

  14. Interesting and I agree that if you go back far enough, the praxis would be similar. Seems there’s a few holdovers even today, though I doubt those churches would admit to a direct Jewish origin for them.

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