The Shema, God’s People and Prayer

The Shema, God’s People and Prayer October 25, 2023

This week corruption continues to be exposed in Congress as conspiracy theories and the power struggle continues to grow here and in the Middle East. More people are bowing to the gods of this world.

  • Money
  • Power
  • Pleasure
  • Selfishness

Gods are wherever we focus our resources, time, and energy (Isaiah 44:9- 20). Often what we value the most becomes our god. Not much has changed since God freed his people from Egypt.

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We tend to listen to whatever makes us happy, even if it is wrong. This is why it’s important for God’s people to connect with Him through prayer and obedience.



Prayer is meant to be a line of communication to God. The Apostle Paul tells us to go to God about everything but emphasizes guarding our hearts (Philippians 4:6-7).

Because the desires of our hearts aren’t always God’s will. That’s why Jesus taught His followers to pray for God’s will and not theirs (Matthew 6:7-10).

Guarded Hearts
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This was a very basic Jewish teaching, everything in our lives and hearts must be in God’s will. That is what the Jewish Shema emphasizes.


The Shema is more than just a prayer in Judaism; it is a commitment to God out of our love for Him. After God freed Israel from Egypt, God led them through the wilderness where they encountered other gods.

Praying to God.
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The word Shema literally means “to hear.” Moses instructed  Israel to remain faithful to the one true God (Numbers 15:37-41, Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 11:13-21.)






So, payer is less about telling God our selfish desires and more about listening to God about what He commands. Below are some interesting facts about the Shema from

  1. The Shema covers three paragraphs from the Torah.
  2. The Shema is repeated twice daily.
  3. Orthodox Jews cover their eyes when saying the first verse.
  4. It is one of the first things Jews teach their children.
  5. The second line of the Shema is a mystery because it isn’t found in the Bible.
  6. It is more than a monotheistic God, but God and creation are one.
  7. The Shema expresses two levels of unity, God and His creation.
  8. The theme of the Shema is love.
  9. Crying out the Shema is the climax of Yom Kippur.
  10. We repeat the Shema at bedtime.

The Shema isn’t just central to Judaism; it is very much rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith. Jesus quoted the Shema (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12: 28- 30).

He focused on His relationship with God, not the religion of man (John 10:30-38). Jesus was perfect and He knew the ways of man are impure.


In Judaism, purity is extremely important. As God’s people, Jews were commanded to be pure and holy. They aren’t allowed to be contaminated or corrupted by things of this world.

They were not allowed to follow the sinful desires of their corrupt hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Remember, God’s people are to devote their entire lives to God.


Clean hands
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They knew how easy it was to let other gods into their hearts. Even King David went astray. The psalmist cried out to God to wash his heart with hyssop (psalm 51:7)!






Hyssop was an expectorant and used for medical purposes to purge our insides of congestion in ancient times. Much like cough medicines are used today.

  • Cleanse
  • Purge
  • Heal

This is why Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs, they were more concerned about looking godly than being purified on the inside (Matthew 23:27).

Religion makes us look good; a relationship with God makes us right. I’ve learned this the hard way living in the South. This is why we must commit ourselves completely to God and listen (Shema)!

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