|Photo by David Spicer|
Thursday, October 10, 2013
One of the books I am reading is by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, entitled Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. The authors provide fascinating historical background about the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, bringing fresh insight to many passages of Scripture.
As a good and faithful Jew, Jesus would have recited and prayed the Shema every morning and evening. They name the prayer the Shema because of the first word of the first line of Deuteronomy 6:4-5:
Hear [Shema], O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Jesus quoted the Shema when He was asked what the greatest commandment was (Mark 12:28-30). The Shema is composed of three passages of Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41.
We tend to recite the words of the great commandment. Jesus, however, would have not just recited them, but used them as a way to express His deep commitment to His Father. Jesus would have prayed them as an act of devotion to God.
This insight caused me to examine my own spiritual life. How often do I pray to purposely express my commitment to the Father?
Yes, like others, I ask God for things. I praise Him for His greatness. I pray for forgiveness as I confess my sins. I pray for others. In the end, most of those prayers are for me. It is what I want, what I need, and what I am asking God to do.
By the way, there is nothing wrong with that. He asks us to pray like that.
Jesus’ prayer life is forcing me to think a little differently. How often is my prayer an act of devotion? How often am I praying to show God my commitment to Him, affirming His ways in all of my life? How do I pray in such a way that it is not about me?
I don’t want it about me. I want it to be about Him. I want my life to be a living example of John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
If I truly want it this way, I’d better start living this way. And that begins with my prayer life.