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The Lord's Prayer (Hebrew/English) [PDF]

Yeshua Knelt to Pray

"Yeshua often withdrew to lonely places to pray."
(Luke 5:16)

by Paul Sumner

  That Yeshua prayed to God is a common theme in the New Testament. The NT writers were intent on telling their readers that he prayed "without ceasing" and that his example was meant for them to follow.

Did Yeshua's disciples pray to him? See below.

Following are aspects of Yeshua's prayer experience.

Times
The gospel accounts suggest that Yeshua did not restrict his prayers to set times centered around Jerusalem Temple worship. As he advised his disciples, so also he prayed "at all times" (Luke 18:1).

Sometimes it was "in the early morning, while it was still dark" (Mark 1:35). At others, it was "evening" (Matt 14:23). Or his sessions would last for "the whole night" (Luke 6:12). His relationship to God, his Father, was governed by desire for fellowship, wisdom and strength, not by custom.

Locations
Often "he was praying alone," though his disciples were in the vicinity (Luke 9:18). The contents of his prayers are mostly unreported. But his prayer during his final Passover is the longest recorded in the NT (John 17).

BeMidbar — In the Wilderness
He began his public career in the "wilderness" of Judah, where he experienced absolute dependence on God for his life (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). This seemed to develop a preference. Frequently he left the company of his disciples to pray in "a lonely" or "deserted" place (Matt 14:13; Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; 5:16). And one time he invited his weary disciples: "Come away by yourselves and rest a while" (Mark 6:31).

In the Mountains
The desert was not his only refuge. At times "he went up to the mountain by himself to pray" (Matt 14:23; cf. Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12). This doesn't seem to be a specific mountain. There are many in Galilee.

Another time, his visionary enshroudment with the Glory of God took place on "a high mountain" (perhaps snow-capped Mount Hermon). There, it specifically says he had taken his closest disciples—Peter, John and Jacob—"to the mountain to pray" (Luke 9:28; Matt 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13). This event echoes Moses' ascent into the Kavod of God on Mount Sinai (Exod 19).

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Postures
Face to Face (With God)
Normally, Yeshua "raised his eyes" and looked "toward Heaven"—as though speaking to God face to face (Matt 14:19; Mark 7:34). The word "Heaven" can be a euphemism for "God," the one who resides there (Matt 23:22; Mark 11:30; Luke 15:18; John 3:27). The "kingdom of Heaven" is the "kingdom of God" (Matt 8:11; Luke 13:28).

In looking upward, Yeshua did not hesitate to approach his heavenly father: "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me" (John 11:41-42).

Gethsemane
But in the olive grove of Gat-Shemanim ("the olive press"), during his struggle with intense grief "to the point of death" (Matt 26:38; Mark 14:34), he went to the ground. Luke's account says, "He knelt down and began to pray" (22:41). Matthew portrays this more vividly: "He fell on his face and prayed" (26:39). (The New Revised Standard Version renders the verb epesen as "he threw himself on the ground.")

A few hours later, however, while he was hanging on the tree, one senses he again lifted his eyes toward Heaven: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).

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Terms of Address
"Abba, Father"
Yeshua's relation to God is depicted as one of deep intimacy. He regularly addressed God as "Father."

Some commentators say that Yeshua addressed his Father by the Aramaic term "Abba," which, they say, meant "Daddy," what a child would say. But this isn't necessarily so. It has no more intimate connotation than does the Hebrew "Avi"—both mean "Father." The tone of voice and heart-attitude would convey familiarity.

"Abba" is used three times in the NT, only once in the gospels.

And he was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will." (Mark 14:36)
The Greek phrase is: Abba, ho Pater, literally, "Father, (the) Father." Abba is Aramaic (not Hebrew), the second is Greek. Ho pater is not an intimate form. It was added for Greek readers/hearers of the Gospel, not to amplify the meaning of Abba. The identical phrase Abba, ho Pater is used in Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6, with Jewish and Gentile audiences.

(See the article Yeshua bar Abba.)

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"God"
It is rare, but Yeshua did refer to God as "God."

On the tree, he cried out the first line of Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34). Here is psychological distancing when he calls his Father God. Under the circumstances—being forsaken because he was "made sin," 2 Cor 5:21—he could use only a generic term for the Deity he once knew heart to heart.

After the resurrection, he told Miryam of Magdala to "stop clinging" to him, because he had not finished the journey back to the Father. He commissioned her instead to "go to my brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God'" (John 20:17).

"Lord of heaven and earth"
Yeshua encountered hard-hearted people who knew him but rejected him. Paradoxically, he turned to God and thanked him. For God had revealed truth not to those "wise and intelligent" (who rejected) but to "babes" (who believed). He exclaimed, "I praise you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth" (Matt 11:25; cf. Luke 10:21).

In Hebrew terms, "LORD of heaven and earth" is a reference to God as sovereign Creator. Abraham refers to "the LORD, the God of heaven and God of earth" (Gen 24:3), and Moses says, "The LORD, he is the God in heaven above and on earth below" (Deut 4:39).

Perhaps Yeshua's choice of expression alluded to God's sovereignty over all humankind as the Revealer to those he chooses to reveal.

In a fitting parallel, one of his disciples, during a visionary visit to heaven, hears the supernatural beings and martryed souls of people around God's throne say to the resurrected Yeshua:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches
and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.
(Rev 5:12)

They, and all other created beings in the universe, then raise their voices in praise:

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb,
be blessing and honor and glory and dominion for ever and ever.
(Rev 5:13)

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Kinds of Prayer
Praise for Victory
Some prayers were expressions of praise. The line between them isn't thick. In Matt 11:25, Yeshua said to God, "I praise you." This phrase comes from Israel's national worship tradition.

At the Reed Sea, Moses and the children of Israel sang, "This is my God, and I will praise him" (Exod 15:2b). Later Moses admonished the next generation that because of God's "great and awesome" actions on their behalf, "He is your praise and he is your God" (Deut 10:21).

Deborah and Baraq said in their victory song, "I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel" (Judg 5:3). And the psalms are filled with the words "I will praise you" (Ps 22:22); "I shall praise you, O God, my God" (Ps 43:4); "My lips will praise you" (Ps 63:3); "To you will I sing praises with the lyre" (Ps 71:22). [See the study Yeshua Sang Hymns.]

Thankfulness for Sustenance
Yeshua often thanked God for simply providing food ("bread"). In Jewish custom, a blessing is offered before eating. The food is not blessed, the Creator of it is. Thus in Matt 14:19 we read:

He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward Heaven (i.e., God), he blessed [Him], and breaking the loaves he gave them to the disciples.
In Matt 15:36 and John 6:11, he took bread and fish, then "giving thanks" (i.e., to God) he passed the food out.

At the Last Passover, he "took some bread and having blessed [God], he broke it and gave it to the disciples." Likewise, "he took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them" (Matt 26:26, 27). After the resurrection, Yeshua had dinner with two disciples in Emmaus where he "took the bread and blessed [God]" (Luke 24:30).

One passage does say he blessed the bread (Luke 9:16).

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Intercession
Yeshua interceded for people.

"Simon . . . I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:31-32). At the Passover, he prayed, "Father . . . I ask on their behalf" (John 17:1, 9). And during his execution, Yeshua prayed, "Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

This was a hallmark not only of his earthly life. The NT says he works now as a high priest in God's presence.

Messiah Yeshua is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." (Rom 8:34)

He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)

(See the article Hebrew Mediators and the Mediator Messiah.)

Yeshua also prayed for himself.

He needed physical and mental strength to face hostile religious and brutal military powers, as well as demonic forces. He needed assurance when people failed to give him friendship in return for his, or their gratitude for what he had given them, or their encouraging love when others hated him. He needed his father's hand on his head and shoulders to carry on with the planned work.

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Prayer At or For Special Events

1) His immersion in River Jordan. "While he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove" (Luke 3:21-22).

2) Before choosing the Twelve. "It was at this time that he went off to the mountain to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).

3) Heavenly transformation. "He took Peter and John and Jacob, and went up the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face became different, and his clothing became white and gleaming" (Luke 9:28-29).

4) Before raising Lazarus. Yeshua "raised his eyes, and said, 'Father, I thank you that you heard me. And I knew that you hear me always" (John 11:41-42a). He then "cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth,'" and Lazarus "came forth" from the tomb (43-44).

5) On the evening of his last Pesach, "lifting up his eyes to Heaven, he said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, that the Son may glorify you' " (John 17:1).

6) Later the same night, in the olive grove, he told his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray" (Matt 26:36). He "was praying very fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood" (Luke 22:44).

The book of Hebrews adds a striking comment, apparently about this ordeal in Gethsemane: "He offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death" (Heb 5:7a). Yeshua crying and calling out to God? His prayer was effective: "He was heard, because of his piety" (v. 7b). He was saved from death's chains: he was raised alive.
7) On the tree on Golgotha, he asked his Father "to forgive" his crucifiers (Luke 23:34). Then just before expiring he prayed, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lule 23:46).

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Teacher of Prayer
Yeshua taught his disciples "that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1). The gospel of Luke is filled with more references to Yeshua's prayer life than any other NT book. It seems to be a central element of his portrayal of the Son of Man.

It came to pass that while he was praying in a certain place, after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1)

Yeshua responds by giving them the prayer example called "the Lord's prayer." "When you pray, say . . ." (v. 2). He taught them what he himself practiced. He did not teach them to pantomime pious performances to fool God or to impress the religiously naive.

He wanted them to know the Father who "knows that you need these things" and who "has gladly chosen to give you the kingdom." Because of the Father's love, Yeshua wanted them to stop being "anxious . . . stop being in suspense" (Luke 12:22-34).

[See a PDF translation of The Lord's Prayer into Hebrew with transliteration into English.]


Did the Disciples Pray to Yeshua?

The NT reports people "calling upon" or "invoking" (epikaleo) the name of Yeshua as Lord (Acts 7:59; Rom 10:12-14). The same phrase refers to calling on God (Acts 2:21; 2 Cor 1:23; 1 Pet 1:17), and reflects the Hebrew qara beShem YHVH (Gen 13:4; Isa 64:6; Ps 116:13).

In Romans 10:12-13, Paul quotes Joel 3:5 (Eng 2:32), which speaks of calling upon YHVH. Paul, however, applies this passage to Yeshua. The implication is not that Yeshua "is" YHVH, but that his lordship is the present, earthly manifestation of God's sovereign reign (kingdom) through him as his Lord and Messiah (Rom 10:9-14; Heb 1:10; 1 Pet 3:15).

It's helpful to remember that the name "Yeshua" means (in Hebrew) "the LORD saves" [YHVH yasha]:

"You shall call his name Yeshua, for it is he who will save [Heb. yasha] his people from their sins." (Matt 1:21)

"God has brought to Israel a Savior [Heb. moshia, from yasha], Yeshua." (Acts 13:23)

"There is salvation [Heb. yeshuah] in no one else; for there is no other name [Yeshua] under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved [Heb. yasha]/" (Acts 4:12)

[Consider the detailed PDF study "Worship in the New Testament".]

• Paul Sumner

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