Hear, Oh believer

The Shema is the cornerstone of the daily morning and evening prayers spoken by traditionally observant Jews. It declares a confirmation of God’s oneness and kingship. The opening lines to the prayer begin, “Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai in One! Blessed is God’s name; His glorious kingdom is forever and ever!” It is a beautiful prayer that God’s people have been praying for millennia.

Moses, who introduced the Shema, believed that loyalty, obedience, and love for their true God is the only way to live. He also felt their attachment to many gods was the greatest threat to Israel’s future. So, they prayed the Shema daily to remind themselves that Adonai alone was their God. This prayer continued during Jesus’ earthly ministry. He drew upon this truth in his teaching. He reaffirmed Moses’s thoughts when he said, “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NIV)

Prayer reminds us we are connected to the creator of everything that was, is and will be. Praying keeps God’s love and loyalty in our minds and moves us toward obedience – not out of obligation or duty but out of love. 

Scottish church leader Thomas Chalmers once wrote, “May we never forget that Christianity is in a war and that every generation of believers has had their difficulties to deal with.” He reminds us that the life of a Christian is a life of vigilance and that while we are in the world, we will have to struggle with its vices. Whatever happened around them, church leaders of the past knew where they wanted to end up. They kept their eyes on the Lord, and they kept their eyes on heaven. And they knew that, no matter what they said or did, the outside world would never approve.

Do you start your day with words affirming your belief that God is one and will be with you during your engagements with the world?

Puritan Lewis Bayly (1575–1631) liked to pray this when he arose in the morning: “As you have awakened my body from sleep, so I beg you, awaken my soul to sin and from worldly security. As you have caused the sun’s light to shine on my physical eyes, cause the light of your word and Holy Spirit to illuminate my heart”.