As Jesus travels with his disciples, he frequently finds himself confronted by opponents who want to argue or trick him into a
sound-byte he’ll regret.
But after a brief dispute with the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in personal resurrection, a scribe appears to ask Jesus a life-sized question that does seem rooted in sincerity: Which commandment is the first of all? In response, Jesus quotes the Shema that we’ve been reading this week: Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (vv. 29-30).
Not only was this the Israelites’ most notable law; it was also their most notable prayer. They offered it each morning and evening. If possible, this becomes the final prayer a Jewish person will offer before they die.
What might happen if our greatest law became our greatest prayer? We might understand that the commandments God gives us are not mere prohibitions, but pathways to a relationship with the One who envisions a community we have yet to fully see. Imagine praying with the guidelines God offers that could make our worship more intimate, our relationship with God more devoted, our interactions with our neighbors increasingly kind.
We pray to the one God who is sufficient, strong enough to help us in everything we have to face. When God’s rules become our prayer, our living grows more inspired.
What do you find yourself praying throughout the day?
God who gives us all that we need, teach us that it’s to whom we pray that makes all the difference. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.