Grace and Truth
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
5 - WORSHIPPING GOD
Exodus 23:25 -- “So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.”
Deuteronomy 13:4-5 -- 4 “You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 6:13 -- “You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.”
Deuteronomy 11:13 -- “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul”
In the Mishnah of R. Eliezer, the son of R. Jose Ha-Galili, the Sages say: “Whence do we learn that prayer is obligatory? From the verse, You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him (Deuteronomy 6:13-14).”
The chief thing in prayer is kavvanah, devotion – more literally, “direction of the heart”. Thus, Maimonides writes: “Prayer without devotion is no prayer at all. The man who has prayed without devotion is under obligation to recite his prayers over again… Now what is devotion? One must free his heart from all other thoughts and regard himself as standing in the presence of God. Therefore, before engaging in prayer, the worshipper should collect himself in order to bring himself into a devotional frame of mind, and then pray quietly and with feeling, not like one who carries a weight and throws it away and goes farther; hence after prayer the worshipper should linger a while, and only then depart. The pious folk of old tarried an hour before they engaged in prayer and an hour after completing it, likewise remaining in prayer for a whole hour.”*
* Mishneh Torah, Ahabah, Hilchoth Tephillah, 1V, 15- 16.
To Maimonides the efficacy of prayer was intensely real and as vital as the very breath of his life: “God is near to all who call Him, if they call Him in truth, and turn to Him. He is found by everyone who seeks Him, if he always goes towards Him, and never goes astray.”*
* Moreh Nebuchim, III, 54.
Maimonides also includes among the Thirteen Basic Principles of Faith the absolute exclusion of the thought of any intermediate power, spirit, or angel, from our prayers, which must be wholly and solely directed to the Lord of the Universe.*
* App. IV.