In the English language, prayer is largely defined by the idea of asking. In old English one could say, either to God or to anyone else: “I pray thee to do such and such.” The basic concept here is a heart-felt request. The Jewish concept of prayer, however, is best defined by its Hebrew word “tfilah (תפילה).

The primary meaning of the verb “lehitpalel” (להתפלל), the verb behind the noun, is self-judgement or introspection. Especially in Jewish Hassidic traditions, tfiliah is understood to be an introspection that results in bonding between the creature and the Creator, as a child would bond with his/her father.

It is not a surprise that when the Jewish Christ was asked by his disciples how they should pray, he taught them what to request, making sure to address their Heavenly King as “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). Shortly before that Jesus warned them to avoid using vain repetitions that characterized pagan approaches to prayer (Matt 6:7).

In Isaiah, we find a curious text: “These I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of my prayer” (וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי). Note the wording: not “my house of prayer,” but “the house of my prayer.” (Isaiah 56:7; cf. b. Barachot 7a). But how is it possible for God to engage in prayer? And with whom?

The answer lies in understanding that Hebrew prayer is not only a “request-making session.” It is a communal bonding between God and his child. The house of “his prayer” is, therefore, where God himself engages in introspection and, in so doing, bonds deeply with his people. They in turn reciprocate this action in their own prayers and bond with God.



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    • God is not our father, not qualified to pray. At first Jesus wants us to pray for others to be able to go into the kingdom of God. Then we communicate with God about our sin. Finally announce God’s lordship. Without His lordship, prayers are not meaningful.

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    • In terms of prayer - I love the Hebrew word for "wait" as in they that wait [qavah] upon the Lord - meaning to entwine oneself with the Lord - so waiting is not like just standing waiting for a bus, but actively entwining oneself with the LORD - these are the ones who will renew their strength etc. Prayer, as you've said is concerned with developing the relationship with a loving Heavenly Father - thank You Yeshua for opening up the Way for us

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  1. Great article! But here's a question: What exactly are examples of vain repetitions in prayer used by pagans?
    • Well Janis, Christ Jesus simply puts it as that the pagans continuously repeat the their words or requests over and over again (remember they pray to idols that do not hear)) hoping they will be heard. This emanates from unbelief, however He is also teaching about faith, that we pray to a Father who hears and speaks.And as believers, we are motivated that our prayers are heard and we ought to believe that.

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    • An example today would be the Muslim prayer (salaat) which is more reciting the same words each time. It more of a religious ritual than a relationship.

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  2. Thank you. Other than Messiah ever making intercession for us to the father, the concept of the Lord praying – in the basic English sense— never did quite make sense to me. When Yeshua specifically prayed to the Father to remove the cup from Him, etc., I’m assuming that this particular word for prayer was not the one used here? Messiah’s prayer from Gethsemane was a prayer specifically directed and with a an actual request – not just contemplation or meditation, right?
  3. Thank you for this gracious word. As I read I thought of that lovely passage in Isaiah where our god graciously invites us to " Come let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow etc". Isn't our beloved Lord amazing ?
    • Thank you for reminding us of this, Colin. The LORD reaches out to us even if/when our sins be as scarlet because He wants to help us become pure through relationship with him.
    • Oh yes indeed. God wanting to reason with us is unthinkable, nevertheless it brings to mind a father trying his best to make his wayward youthful son see reason as he chases after worthless, pursuits.
    • Yes, Colin. This is the portion of Scripture that lead me to come and made the best exchange I ever have done: Trade the red filthy sin for His Pure White Righteousness. He continues his Perfect Work.That was a great offer. His Grace and Mercy is Amazing.
  4. Would love to do the course unfortunately just to poor to afford. Blessings to all from South Africa. My life at nearly 62 may be a struggle for me and my cerebral palsy daughter. But daily I feel Blessed with God Grace.
  5. Theology has come to the sad state of being, i.e., much of what we do in our various religious institutions are fudged. One of the original names for our SPIRITUAL BEING is CREATOR. 8000 or more years in the original countries, Sumer, Babylon, Kemet, and Canaan, all were ruled by females! When the Indo-European come with their military might, they changed everything from females to males, thus the term He; and the patriarchal power continues to exist. Not only did they change female control to male, they changed everything else to look European!
  6. Hi Dr Eli I felt that Word right in my spirit. I never ever thought about prayer in the way you described it. And as I'm typing the thought of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and God engaging and bonding with us is so powerful and overwhelming. I'm truly blessed by this. P.s. I'm blessed by all your topics but this one is special, personal.
  7. Dr, Eli L.E ,thank you so much for your love for others for you care to share much with others .this is good . may god bless you and your family.God says where two or three people gather in my name i will be in their amidst.from odikor moses in Uganda
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