Glenn Ahrens: (302) 761-3286

Glenn Ahrens: (302) 761-3286

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What Does Prayer Mean in Hebrew - El Shaddai Christian Ministries

What Does Prayer Mean in Hebrew

In our modern religious culture prayer is a communication between man and God. The Hebrew word for prayer literally means to “fall down to the ground in the presence of one in authority pleading a cause“. 

The Hebrew word for prayer (tefilah) (תפלה) comes from the verb pallel (פלל), “to judge.” We use the reflexive verb lehitpallel (“to pray”), which also means “to judge oneself.” Thus, the time of prayer is the time of self-judgment and self-evaluation. When a person addresses himself to God and prays for His blessings, he must inevitably search his heart and examine himself whether he measures up to the standards of daily conduct which God had prescribed for man to follow. If he is not one who fools himself, he will be filled with humility, realizing that he hardly merits the blessings and favors for which he is asking. This is why we stress in our prayers God’s infinite goodness and mercies and pray to God to grant us our heart’s desires not because we merit them, but even though we do not deserve them. This is also why our prayers, on weekdays, contain a confession of sins that we may have committed knowingly or unknowingly. We pray for God’s forgiveness and resolve to better ourselves. Prayers help us to lead a better life in every respect, by living more fully the way of the Torah and Mitzvoth (the commandments of the Jewish law) which God commanded us. 

Jesus did not say; I will provide all your wants, but in

Philippians 4:19

 He says, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus

One of the hardest things I found to do when I first became a Christian was distinguishing the difference between my needs and my wants. God is not a cosmic genie who promises to answer every request if we just believe strongly enough in His power. There are qualifiers. Someone once said that God answers prayer in one of four ways: 1) “Yes,” 2) “No,” 3) “Wait” or 4) “You’ve got to be kidding Me!”   

One thing that really upsets me is how many Christians pray a lot and then complain that their prayers are not answered. We are always asking God for stuff, but what are we willing to do for Him. Imagine you have a very good friend that asks you for a lot of favors and because you are a friend you help them out. But the one time you need a favor from them all you get is a bunch of excuses why they can’t do it, how does that make you feel? How do you think it makes God feel when we are always asking Him for favors do anything for Him? One of the last things that Jesus requested before He ascended to heaven was in Matthew 28:19 where He said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Part of this is being actively the church and the neighborhood we live in. Christianity is a lifestyle, not a hobby. I would like to say it’s like pregnancy, you either are or you’re not there is no in-between. 

God doesn’t promise that all our prayers will be answered just as we express them. He does promise that He hears our prayers and in the end, all will be made right. In the meantime, ours is not to understand or explain, but to trust and to wait. This is a lesson that every one of us needs to understand and that every church leader should be teaching to members of the flock.

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