In ancient times, a servant did not approach his master casually. Upon coming into his presence, the master would be praised, a request might be made and the master would be thanked. You can see a similar protocol when subjects address a king.

It is this attitude that the Jewish people adopted in developing their amidah – the daily prayer – approaching God as a servant to their master or king.

While the amidah is full of liturgy and detail, it can be broken down into three general sections, which follow the master/servant interaction.

Praise or blessing – extolling God for who He is. It is good to be reminded of His majesty, power and character. This is almighty God and we have the privilege of His presence.

Petition – once we have been reminded of His greatness, we can put our requests to Him. This acknowledges that He is the source from which the answers and blessings come. We trust in His wisdom and character for the outcome. As Ezra said before Darius of Persia, “If it seems good to the king…”[1] Is that how I make requests? Not usually. I’m more of a petulant child demanding my way. When I make a request I must trust in His goodness to respond how He deems best.

Thanks - giving credit to the source of all good things. Do I acknowledge His goodness before receiving an answer, thanking Him regardless of the outcome? Gratitude expressed is for His presence as well as trust in His care.

God doesn’t need to be reminded of His awesomeness, but I do. And He enjoys the praise due to Him, like soothing incense.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Psalm 141:2

The differences in position and power were stark in Biblical times, creating a picture of man’s standing before God. I think our egalitarian society may influence how we relate to God, giving the idea of God as our buddy or business partner. We have many patterns for how we address God - loving and protective Father, Bridegroom, Redeemer. While these are all true pictures given by Him, I also need to be reminded that He is Lord, Master, and King.

I want to adopt the Jewish approach, not as a formula but an attitude. I want my posture to be one of servant, because I need constant reminding of Who is really on the throne.


[1] Ezra 5:17

1 Response

  1. Elaine
    Wow - great reminder

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