|From the Rising of the Sun...|
“Barukh atah, Adonai Elohenu, Melek ha-olam...”
or “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe!”
I love this beautiful little prayer tucked inside the book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg. (p. 92) They explain that the Jewish people are taught to saturate their day with very short prayers (berakhah) to “bless” or praise God for anything and everything. Each little prayer is to be said with kavanah, which, Jewish theologian and writer, Abraham Heschel explains is “Attentiveness to God...It is one's being drawn to the preciousness of something he is faced with. To sense the preciousness of being able to pray, to be perceptive of the supreme significance of worshiping God...” Heschel, Man's Quest for God, (p.84)
I love the picture of this method of prayer drawing us into a deeper awareness of God's constant presence in our lives and of the “preciousness of being able to pray!” Without this, prayer can seem like a chore that is devoid of any real meaning.
Reading this reminded me of a car ride I had with my little granddaughter when she was only about three or four years old. She was sitting in the back seat while I was driving somewhere and I suggested that we think of things we could thank God for. No sooner did I have the words out of my mouth when she started a list of things she saw all around her that she wanted to thank Him for. The list was endless – the grass, the sky, the rain, the sun, the cows, the dirt! "The dirt?" I said. Yes, she told me matter-of-factly – God made that too! I was left watching her in the rear view mirror, speechless at the ease with which this little child, so dear to the heart of God, already knew how to talk to her Father. Everything around her was a blessing from God who deserved to be thanked!
As grownups, we have a little harder time seeing the blessings so readily! But the Jewish mind weaves everything into the berakhah (blessing God).
Having a bad day? “Blessed are You, Lord, God, King of the Universe, for bringing me through this ugly, difficult day!”
Wish you had more money? “Blessed are You, Lord, God, King of the Universe, that You enable me to make a living in such difficult times!”
Feeling ill? “Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the Universe, that You are able to heal me, if You choose. I put my trust in You.”
Tired in the morning? “Blessed are You, Lord God, King of the Universe, that You give me life for another day.”
Want to try it?! Remember to:
- Always keep God at the center of the prayer. The Jewish prayer, even today, always addresses God as “Lord, God, King of the Universe.”
- Pray these prayers of blessing or praise to God from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night.
- Keep them very short. One or two sentences at most.
Here's a few suggestions the authors incorporated into their book.(p. 100)
Try writing your own berakha or blessing for the following:
- The happiest day of your life
- The saddest day of your life
- Two things that have happened to you in the last hour.
- Write a blessing about the weather (no matter what it is outside!)
“From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord's Name is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:3 NKJV