By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel
How precious is the fellowship between Christians and Jews!
One of the aspects of the ongoing and ever expanding Jewish-Christian relationships is how we are completing each another.
I’d like to share a little incident during the recent Christian Media Summit amazingly sponsored by the Jewish state.
It’s a new day!
As we set off on a morning press tour, our Israeli guide named Ariel began his introduction by saying that part of life’s routine for the Jewish people is starting their day with the Modeh Ani (Hebrew: מודה אני; “I give thanks”), a prayer that observant Jews recite upon waking, while still in bed.
Ariel sang this prayer in Hebrew for us:
“I give thanks before you, King living and eternal, for You have returned within me my soul with compassion; abundant is Your faithfulness!”
Indeed….”The Lord’s mercies … are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23.) From that biblical text, the Modeh Ani expresses gratitude to God for restoring one’s soul each morning.
Because of its simplicity, Modeh Ani is a favorite prayer for children. In the American culture in which I grew up, we were taught to say the little rhyming prayer before going to sleep,
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
But we Christians were never taught that following the “mini death” of sleep, upon awakening again, to thank the Lord for returning our souls!
There are, of course, many translations of Modeh Ani, and I particularly liked the way Ariel translated it for us. His translation went something like this: “I thank you, eternal King, for returning within me my soul and that you have faith in me [or that you put your great faithfulness within me.”
Now, that really preaches! . . . to thank God that he puts his great faithfulness within us.
By the way, Christians say grace before a meal; Jews say a blessing after a meal. I like the idea of doing both, just as the Modeh Ani prayer appeals to me very much both as a concluding prayer upon sleep and as an affirmation at dawn.
The Modeh Ani prayer does not include any names of God, so observant Jews are allowed to recite it before washing their hands.
Upon waking in Talmudic times, Jews traditionally recited Elohai Neshamah (Hebrew: אֱלהַי נְשָׁמָה, “My God, the soul”).