Jewish prayer is the heartbeat of Judaism. In the very center of its elaborate liturgical experience lies one prayer that stands out among others – the Amida, literally, “the standing”. The main idea behind its name (“standing”) is the worshiper’s entrance into the presence of the “seated” Heavenly King. God has granted the ultimate audience to the humble worshipper. There is no one greater to meet.
Therefore, while other prayers are extremely important, it is Amida that deserves our closest attention. There is much that can be said about its current form and the history of its development. Together, we will consider those things slowly, step-by-step as we move through it, experiencing its beauty and admiring its depth of devotion.
Even though much preparation for this divine audience occurred in previous prayers, there is one more additional request that is uttered before God, right before the rest of the Amida can be prayed.
אֲדנָי שפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶךָ
“Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise.”
The worshiper states that his mouth will announce God’s praise, only if God Himself will grant His permission by opening the mouth of His otherwise silent and submissive servant. Many prayers and praises were uttered prior to this, but none in the actual presence of the King of Kings in His own throne room. The time has come to meet Him and final approval from God to speak in His own presence is requested.
It is presumed that God, in fact, grants this humble request and the Jewish worshiper begins his serenade of praise, petition, and thanks to his Heavenly King and Father.
Blessing #1 (FATHERS)
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבותֵינוּ. אֱלהֵי אַבְרָהָם. אֱלהֵי יִצְחָק. וֵאלהֵי יַעֲקב
(Pronounced: Baruch ata Adonai elocheinu valohei avoteinu. Elochei Avraham, Elohei Itzhak vElochai Yakov).
“Blessed are You, Lord our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob.”
The standard blessing of “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe…”, found in most Jewish prayers, is dramatically and purposely exchanged in Amida for “Blessed are You, Lord our God and God of our fathers”. The worshiper establishes his familial right and, therefore, justified privilege to address God in this special and intimate way. Although the God the Jewish worshiper stands before is, in fact, the God of all Nations of the earth, it is this personal family connection with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that establishes the right and the privilege of Amida. We will soon discover why.