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Jesus and Jewish Prayer

Obedience to the Torah would not only redeem the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. In Leviticus 11:44, God commanded the Israelites to “…be holy, [as he is] holy.” By adopting this lifestyle, they would be a set apart nation (Exod 19:6). According to Andrew E. Hill and Jonah H. Walton, holiness was the distinction between the Hebrew religion and other ancient Near Eastern religions.[25] By living as a holy nation, the Jews would disassociate themselves from the rest of the world. This disassociation, however, did not omit God’s plan and purpose for the Gentiles. In fact, it initiated his purpose. Harner writes that the holiness of God’s people would “…carry out his plans for the salvation of [all] men.”[26] Jesus reiterated this concept when he said, “…it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matt 18:14). Through observation of the distinct lifestyle of the Jews, the Gentiles would recognize the “…righteous character of Yahweh in contrast to the capricious behavior of…pagan deities.”[27] As a result, the kingdom of heaven would not only be established among the Jews, but the Gentiles as well.

Spiritual Opposition

Being that Jesus prayed for the will of the Lord to be done, it can be debated that his petition suggested that opposition to the coming Kingdom existed in the spiritual realm. While this idea was incorporated into the Berakoth in the post Second Temple time period, Jesus made it clear that the will of the Father would be completed without any opposition.[28] That is why Christ encouraged his followers to store up treasures in the heavenly places so that they may receive a great reward (Matt 5:12, Matt 6:20). Phillip B. Harner states that Jesus’ petition concerning the will of the Lord emphasized that “…God’s will is already perfectly accomplished in heaven, and it prays that this situation may be extended from heaven to earth.” Therefore, overcoming spiritual opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven was not the will of the Lord.

 

Conclusion

In the beginning of this study, it was stated that various Jewish prayers, such as the Ahaba Rabba and the Kaddish, resembled the Lord’s prayer in that they revolved around three themes: “God’s name, kingdom, and will.”[29] After careful observation of these and other prayers, it can clearly be seen that there are parallels between Jewish prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. Just like the rabbis of the Second Temple period, Jesus extracted various motifs from the Torah and incorporated them into his prayer. Jesus not only incorporated the Torah into his prayer, but he also introduced Yahweh as the Father. In the same fashion, Jesus correlated the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven with the fulfillment of the will of the Lord.  Given the fact that there are parallels between Jewish prayer and Jesus’ prayer, it is apparent that Jesus used his Jewish heritage to teach his disciples how to pray. Thus, Jesus taught prayer from a Jewish perspective.

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Category: In Depth, Summer 2016

About the Author: Alejandro Daniel Castro, AA-INDS (South Texas College), received the call into ministry at the age of fourteen. After much prayer, Alejandro answered the call into ministry, and began serving as a volunteer youth leader at The Family Church. During his service, God placed a desire in Alejandro’s heart to clearly and effectively teach the Gospel to youth. As a result, Alejandro decided to pursue an education in theology and ministry. Currently, Alejandro is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in ministry and leadership at Oral Roberts University.

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