The Shema, a Judeo-Christian Prayer?

by William L. Nowell

Part 3: Yeshua's "Amended" Shema

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.

All You Need is Love

The "Amended" Shema is all about love. First, the Shema tells us how to love God. According to the Shema, you are to love the Lord your God with...

  • All your heart
  • All your soul and being
  • All your mind and understanding
  • All your strength and might and resources

This is all out commitment, with no holding back. When it comes to loving God, we are to love God with all that we are and with all that we have.

Secondly, the Shema tells us how to love one another. Specifically, it tells us to love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves. But that's not always easy to do. No doubt, we all know people who are not very lovable. But we have to keep in mind that love, in the Biblical sense, is more about what we do than about what we say or how we feel. Thus, Yeshua's second greatest commandment serves as a reminder that we ought to live by the Golden Rule: “always treat others as you would like them to treat you.” (Matthew 7:12)

A Creed and a Prayer for the Church

We know it was Yeshua's custom to attend synagogue, and that He was an active participant in the synagogue service. (Luke 4:16-17) Reciting the Shema was one of the main elements of the Sabbath synagogue service. It's only logical to conclude that Yeshua recited the Shema every Sabbath day. Additionally, reciting the Shema twice each day, in the morning and in the evening, was the custom of the Jews in the time of Yeshua. No doubt, reciting the Shema was a part of Yeshua's daily devotions. Perhaps we should model our daily devotional time to reflect that of our Lord. Only good can come from that.

Still, some may argue that reciting the Shema was and is a Jewish custom. They conclude that if they are not Jewish, then reciting the Shema does not apply to them. But consider this fact. As born-again Believers in Yeshua, we have been grafted into the household of Israel to form "one new man" in Messiah. (Ephesians 2:15) And so there is no longer any difference between Jew and Gentile in the eyes of God. (Romans 10:12) Without exception, the Shema is relevant for every follower of Yeshua. Using Yeshua's amendment to the original Shema, we can think of the Shema as reading similar to the following.

Shema (A Judeo-Christian Paraphrase)

Hear, all those redeemed by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: (The Lord) Yahweh is our God. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.

The Shema as a Judeo-Christian Prayer

The Shema is more than just a creed. It has traditionally been viewed as a prayer. I propose that we customize The Shema to read more like a prayer and make it a regular part of our prayer lives.

Many of us approach prayer with the narcissistic 'It's All About Me!' attitude. But consider Yeshua's model prayer, the Lord's Prayer. In this prayer, we find the words "us", "our" and "we." What we don't find are the words "me", "my" and "I." The Lord's Prayer is communal in nature, as is the Shema.

Let Us Pray

I challenge each of you reading this article to make the Shema a regular part of your prayer lives by praying something like this.

The Disciple's Prayer

Our Father Yahweh, You are the Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of the universe. You gave Your Son Yeshua (Jesus), Who died for our sins and rose again so that everyone who in faith calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It is in the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah that we pray for the saints redeemed by His blood:

Enable us to love You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength and resources. And enable us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Remember Your promise to put Your laws in our minds and write them on our hearts. Forgive our lawless acts and remember our sins no more. Then You will truly be our God, and we will be Your people.

Adonai, God of heaven and earth, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayers of Your people. We humbly ask You to provide for us our daily needs, guide and protect us, sanctify us by Your Word, and unite us as one.

Father, we thank You for hearing our prayer. And we ask it all in the name of our Lord Yeshua—Creator, Savior, and coming King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.

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