And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
We see in Acts 2:42 a snapshot of the early Messianic community in Jerusalem, and we see that they were continuing to keep the service of “the prayers” (a shorthand way of referring to the liturgical prayer service in the temple/synagogue).
We also see all throughout the Gospels that our Master Yeshua worshiped in the context of the synagogue and temple service, including the liturgical prayer service, so it comes as no surprise that his disciples continued in that way after he ascended to the Father.
As disciples of the Master ourselves, we here at The Bridge believe in the value and meaning of the Jewish liturgical prayers.
Where Does the Liturgy Come From?
The prayers originated with the daily offerings that were brought in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Torah ordains that one lamb was to be offered in the morning and a second lamb in the afternoon (Numbers 28:4). This was done every day without exception. These daily offerings were the service and worship of God. Along with these sacrifices, prayers were offered.
We know the term “appointed times” as referring to the holy days set aside for celebration and worship in Leviticus 23. But did you know that the times of daily sacrifice are also appointed times?
Command the people of Israel and say to them, ‘My offering, my food for my food offerings, my pleasing aroma, you shall be careful to offer to me at its appointed time.’ And you shall say to them, This is the food offering that you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs a year old without blemish, day by day, as a regular offering. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.
Just as the holy festivals are appointed times for us to meet with HaShem on an annual basis, the two daily sacrifices are appointed times for us to meet with Him on a daily basis.
Relevance For Today
The prayers that are compiled in the modern-day siddur (Jewish prayer book) date back a long time, and some believe that parts of them may have accompanied these sacrifices – having been preserved, passed down, and recited throughout the generations. These are referred to as the Shacharit, Minchah, and Ma’ariv prayers. We can still participate in this rich and ancient tradition.
By uttering these prayers, we not only present God with a pleasing offering of our lips, but we also join in the generations of Israel past and present, as we follow the Master Yeshua’s example, and worship God in the same manner the disciples did in the first century.
Liturgy in Christianity
The early Christian church also saw the value and beauty of the Jewish liturgical prayers, and used that inspiration to create their own prayers. These are often referred to as the “liturgy of the hours,” and you can find these Messiah-centered prayers in a Book of Common Prayer.
Liturgy at The Bridge
At The Bridge, we incorporate some liturgical prayers into our Shabbat morning worship, including the Sh’ma and the Avinu (Our Father). We also recite the traditional blessings before and after the reading of the Torah, and include a few others throughout the service in both English and Hebrew.
Shacharit: Morning Prayers
We plan to eventually resume our morning prayer time with a liturgical focus for those who desire more of a liturgical congregation prayer time. These prayers are taken from the Shabbat Shacharit section in a siddur. For all times and details regarding our Shabbat services, please see our event calendar linked above.
Prayer at Home
We highly recommend incorporating the liturgical prayers into your private prayer life. Mark did a teaching on this that you can listen to –here– and you can download a pdf of a simplified version of the weekday prayers –here– to help you get started (Large print version –here-).