It is remarkable that on an Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) or on Sabbath (Saturday morning), anywhere in the world where there are Jews, you are likely to find a congregation reciting Hebrew prayers that are several thousand years old. On the Sabbath, the Torah has been read in the Synagogue for well over 20 centuries. We have written in other articles about the factual evidence
concerning Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus) living by the Torah, teaching the Torah and expounding upon it, as well as other Hebrew scriptures, prayers and customs. Yeshua, being a Jewish Rabbi or teacher, exhorted with Jewish interpretation and understanding. As noted in our tract "Power Through Prayer", Yeshua himself lived a life of prayer. It is through prayer that man receives strength, comfort and spiritual direction. Yeshua's disciples came to Him and asked Him "...teach us to pray..."(1). Again, the same instruction were given them in Matt. 6:9-13.
If we are able to recognize the setting of these Jewish students (Disciples) as they were coming to this Rabbi for teaching and instructions, we will be much better prepared to understand the
teachings of the Messiah. These men had been raised from their youths as Jews. They had studied the Torah. They knew the synagogue prayers, they had been looking for the Messianic Era, and now that Messiah had come they listened to His every word as birds in a nest being fed by a parent.
Yeshua was asked which was the greatest or first commandment, and His reply was "Shema Israel" "...Hear, O Israel: The L-rd our G-d is one L-rd:..."(2). This was a Jewish answer! Could you expect anything less? The "Shema" is recited in every synagogue and every day by the faithful, upon rising the morning and before retiring at night.
With this thought in mind, let us review the prayer that is sometimes called the Lord's Prayer. Actually, it was His instructions on how to pray. He said, "After this manner therefore pray ye:..." (3). If you have read "Power Through Prayer" or Dr. Paul Cho's book Prayer, Key to Revival, you will relate to what seems to be definite phases or stages to Yeshua's instructions. They can be distinguished as six phases or stages of communication with G-d. Yeshua's first instruction to
approach unto G-d was to "worship or praise", second to "surrender", third to bring your "requests", fourth to be in the attitude of "repentance", fifth you are to pray for guidance, and in the KJV the
sixth would be to close with "worship and praise." From Matt. 6:9-13 we read: "After this manner therefore pray ye: (FROM SHEMONEH ESREH) #2-3
1. Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. (vs. 9) #11-14
2. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (vs. 10) #9
3. Give us this day our daily bread. (vs. 11) #5-6
4. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (vs. 12) #13
5. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. (vs. 13) #18
6. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (vs. 13)
As I began to study these in the light of Hebrew prayers, I found they came from Jewish thought, just like the rest of Yeshua's teaching. They are actually a shortened form of the "Shemoneh Esreh", the 18 blessings, or what is also known as the Amidah (meaning "standing").
You have to know how the pieces fit together in order to catch the interlocking theme. Although "Shemoneh Esreh" means eighteen (8+10), there are actually nineteen. Number twelve, the prayer against informers, was added during the Roman occupation at the close of the 1st century C.E., yet
the name of the prayer was not changed. The first three and the last three berakhot (blessings) are stages of prayer as we approach G-d, and descend from our petitions. They contain blessings, praise and worship. The middle paragraphs plead for wisdom, repentance, forgiveness, etc.
Eighteen Blessings (Shemoneh Esreh) (English translation of original Hebrew Prayers)
1.Blessed art Thou, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac, and G-d of Jacob. The great, mighty and awesome G-d, G-d Supreme who extends loving kindness and is Master of all, who remembers the gracious deeds of our forefathers, and who will bring a Redeemer with love to their children's children for His name's sake. King, Helper, Saviour and Protector, blessed art Thou, L-rd, Protector of Abraham.
2.Thy might is eternal, O L-rd, who revives the dead, powerful in saving, who makes the wind to blow and the rain to fall, who sustains the living with loving kindness, who revives the dead with great mercy, who supports the falling, heals the sick, frees the captive, and keeps faith with the dead; who is like Thee, Almighty, and who resembles Thee, O King who can bring death and give life.
3.Thou art holy, and Thy name is holy, and those who are holy shall praise Thee every day. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, the holy G- d.
4.Thou grantest knowledge to man, and teaches understanding to humans; from thine own self, favor us with knowledge, understanding, and sense. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, giver of knowledge.
5.Return us, our Father, to Thy Torah, and draw us closer, our King, to Thy worship, and bring us back before Thee in complete repentance. Blessed are Thou, L-rd, who desires repentance.
6.Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned, pardon us, our King, for we have transgressed, for Thou art a pardoner and forgiver. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, gracious One who forgives abundantly.
7.Look upon us in our suffering, and fight our struggles, redeem us speedily, for Thy name's sake, for Thou art a mighty Redeemer. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, Redeemer of Israel.
8.Heal us, O L-rd, and we shall be healed, save us and we shall be saved, for Thou art our glory. Send complete healing for our every illness, for Thou, Divine King, art the faithful, merciful Physician. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who heals the sick of His people Israel.
9.Bless this year for us, O L-rd our G-d, and all its varied produce that it be for good; provide (dew and rain as a ) blessing on the face of the earth, satisfy us with Thy goodness, and bless this year like the good years. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who blessed the years.
10.Sound the great shofar (to proclaim) our freedom, lift up a banner for the ingathering of our
exiles, and bring us together from the four corners of the earth. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who gathers together the dispersed of His people Israel.
11.Restore our judges as at first, and our counselors as in the beginning, removing from us sorrow and sighing; rule over us, Thou alone, O L-rd, with kindness and mercy, and vindicate us in the judgment. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, King, who loves righteousness and judgment.
12.For slanderers let there be no hope, and let all wickedness instantly perish. May all Thy enemies be quickly cut off; and as for the malicious, swiftly uproot, break, cast down, and subdue quickly in our day. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who breaks the power of His enemies and subdues the malicious. (Note: This was written at the close of the first century - it was never used by Yeshua).
13.On the righteous and the saintly, on the elders of Thy people, the house of Israel, and on their surviving scholars, on the true proselyte and on ourselves, let Thy compassion flow, O L-rd our God. Grant a good reward to all who sincerely trust in Thy name; place our lot with them forever and let us not be shamed, for in Thee do we trust. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, the support and security of the
14.To Jerusalem Thy city, return with compassion, and dwell within it as Thou promised; rebuild it soon in our day, an everlasting structure; and speedily establish in its midst the throne of David. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, builder of Jerusalem.
15.The offspring of Thy servant David, quickly cause to flourish, and lift up his power by Thy
deliverance; for Thy deliverance do we constantly hope. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who makes the glory of deliverance to flourish.
16.Hear our voice, O L-rd our G-d, show compassion and mercy to us, accept our prayers with mercy and favor, for Thou art a God who hears prayers and supplications.
17.Favorably receive, O L-rd our G-d, Thy people Israel and their prayer, restore the worship to Thy temple in Zion, receive with love and favor the offerings of Israel and their prayer, and may the worship of Thy people Israel always be favorably received by Thee, may our eyes behold Thy return to Zion in mercy. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who restores Hi Divine Presence to Zion.
18.We give thanks unto Thee who art the L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers for all eternity. Thou art the strength of our lives, the shield if our deliverance. In every generation, we shall thank Thee and declare Thy praise for our lives that are entrusted in Thy hand, and for our souls that are in Thy care, and for Thy miracles that are daily with us, and for Thy wondrous deeds and goodness that occur at all times, evening, morning, and noon. Thou art the Benevolent One, for Thy mercies are never ended. The Compassionate One, for Thy deeds of kindness do not stop, always have we placed our hope in Thee. For all this, O our King, may Thy name be always blessed and exalted forever and ever. All the living will forever thank Thee and praise Thy name in truth, O G-d, our eternal salvation and help. blessed art Thou, L-rd, whose name is goodness; it is pleasing to give thanks to Thee.
19.Establish peace, well-being, blessing, grace, loving kindness, and mercy upon us and upon all Israel, Thy people for by the light of Thy presence have you given us, O L-rd our God, a Torah of life, love of kindness, justice, blessing, compassion, life, and peace, and it is good in Thy sight to bless Thy people Israel at all times and in every hour with Thy peace. Blessed art Thou, L-rd, who blessed His people Israel with peace.
Quoting from the Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, SHEMONEH ESREH:
"The Shemoneh Esreh prayer is on the central element in the three daily services: Shaharith, Minhah, and Ma'ariv. It is spoken of in the Talmud as Tefillah, the prayer par excellence, on account
of its importance and its antiquity. According to tradition, it was composed by the members of the Great Assembly who flourished at the early period of the Second Temple. Originally, the Shemoneh Esreh, denoting eighteen, consisted of eighteen benedictions; in its present form, however, there are nineteen. The addition of the paragraph concerning the slanderers and enemies of the people was made toward the end of the 1st century at the direction of Rabban Gamaliel II, the head
of the Sanhedrin at Yavneh.
The Shemoneh Esreh is now generally referred to as the Amidah (standing), so called because it is recited in a standing posture. The middle paragraphs of the weekday Shemoneh Esreh contain
petitions for the fulfillment of our needs. They plead for wisdom, repentance, rgiveness, deliverance, healing, prosperity, ingathering of the dispersed, restoration of justice, protection of the upright, rebuilding of Jerusalem, the Messianic era, and the acceptance of prayer. All of these petitions are on behalf of the entire community; petitions for personal needs may be inserted in their appropriate place, as when one reaches the eighth benediction which reads: "Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed; save us and we shall be saved..."
After the Shemoneh Esreh, the following meditation is added: "My God, guard my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking falsehood...Open my heart to Thy Torah, that my soul may follow Thy command...Save with Thy right hand and answer me. May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy presence, O Lord, my Redeemer."
The following is a brief outline of the Shemoneh Esreh, taken from Back To The Sources by Barry W. Holtz, pg. 415. In addition, we have listed beside the appropriate Shemoneh Esreh berakhot, the
corresponding theme and verse of the six stages of the "Lord's Prayer". Yeshua's Instructions = Shemoneh Esreh "The Lord's Prayer" "Eighteen Blessings" States of Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)
1. Worship (vs. 9)
1. G-d as the protector of the Forefathers
2. G-d as the power that makes for salvation
3. G-d as the source of holiness
4. For knowledge
4. Repentance (vs. 12)
5. For the strength to repent
6. For forgiveness
3. Requests (vs. 11)
7. For relief from affliction
8. For healing
9. For bounty of the land and material prosperity
10. For the ingathering of the exiles into the Holy Land
2. Restoration (vs. 10)
11. For the establishment of the reign of true justice
14. For the rebuilding of Jerusalem
15. For the coming of the Messiah
16. For the acceptance of our prayers
17. For the restoration of the Jerusalem Sanctuary
5. Protection for righteous (#12 was not in original eighteen)
12. (Against slanderers and informers.)
13. For the support and protection of the righteous
6. Thanksgiving (Praise) vs. 13)
18. Gratitude as man's response to G-d's work in the world
19. For peace
Yeshua learned the "Shemoneh Esreh" as a young boy, and it was a part of his worship and prayer to His father, G-d. That is, only the original eighteen. Remember, number 12 was placed in the middle after His death at the close of the 1st century C.E. Some say it was inserted because of the Roman oppression, and there is also the thought that it was also in opposition to the sect of the Nazarenes, which had grown to over one million Jewish believers in the 1st century. For whatever the reason, we #12 was not a part of the original eighteen.
So as we review the original eighteen (Shemoneh Esreh), we see it was from the Jewish prayers and Jewish thought that Yeshua again resounded in His teachings and answers. These original eighteen are beautiful prayers, and give a much fuller sense and meaning to what has been called "The Lord's Prayer". These blessing are filled with Messianic hope and fulfillment for not only the righteous of Israel, but also for the true proselyte mentioned in #13, as they are part of G-d's witnesses to the nations. This is being fulfilled in Messianic Judaism. Baruch Ha Shem!
(1) Luke 11:1
(2) Mark 12:29-30
(3) Matthew 6:9
(4) Back To The Sources by Barry W. Holtz
(5) Prayer, Key to Revival by Dr. Paul Cho