Praying Dirt

…and man became a living being  Genesis 2:7

A Living Being – God fashioned from the dust the body that He animated with His breath –  man manifested as nephesh.  There is a bit more here than we might think.  The Mishnah (specific teachings of the rabbis usually transmitted by oral memorization) uses a synonym for nephesh.  The word is mav’eh, derived from the root ba’ah, a verb that means, “to ask, to seek, to request – as in prayer.”  Rabbi Scherman comments, “In other words, the Talmud defines man as ‘the creature that prays.’  Furthermore, the Talmud teaches that even nephesh, the life-sustaining soul, is synonymous with prayer.”  What would happen to our thinking if we translated this verse about the creation of Man as “and man was manifested as a praying being?”  Would we suddenly realize that we are human only insofar as we are engaged in relationship with the Creator?  What is prayer if it is not the essential me in contact with Him?

If I am going to become human, I must move in the direction of the divine design in me.  That does not happen by random chance or automatic pilot.  I must decide to become human.  That is essentially what it means to have free will, to be able to choose.  I can move toward God’s design innately implanted in me, or I can move away from His design, forging a self-made creature fashioned by lesser purposes.  I am equipped to manifest God’s design.  He has insured that I lack nothing necessary for this project.  But accomplishing the task of becoming human requires a continual connection to the Maker.  My humanity depends entirely on how His life is manifest in my nephesh.  Therefore, prayer (in all of its wider Hebrew meaning) is the absolutely necessary ingredient for being what God intended.  The man who does not pray will soon not be a man.

Prayer existed before the Fall.  The earth-formed communicated with the Creator and in the process received life-enhancing purpose, balance and instruction.  In a fallen world, prayer is even more important, not because we now approach God with requests but because the world itself in under the power and influence of the inhuman. The systems of this world are designed to remove your humanity because they are designed to remove you from a relationship with your Creator.  Whatever is self-driven leads to inhuman behavior.  True humanity is found in humble submission to the Creator.  The closer I get to selfless obedience, the more human I become.  How do I know this?  Because God manifested Himself in His Son and demonstrated what truly human being actually looks like.  It looks exactly like Jesus, absolutely devoted to the will of the Father.

There is only one living model for being human.  That model is Jesus.  If I want to be human, I need only look as far as Him to see what humanness means.  Now you know why Jesus spent hours in prayer.  He knew that being human means being connected to the source of Life.  He wasn’t on His knees begging the Father for blessings, power or instructions.  He was in the company of the Father enjoying being fully human.  Don’t you long for that too?

Skip Moen, D. Phil.
You can find out more about this series, “Thirty Days of The Hebrew Worldview”, on this page of the website of Skip Moen:

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