Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NRSV)
The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:14-21 (NRSV)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is known to Jewish scholars as the Shema Yisrael (meaning- Hear, O, Israel) which is the primary foundational teaching on our relationship with God.
God is God. Love God with all you have. Learn about Him and write that knowledge on your mind and your heart. Share that knowledge with everyone around you. Sounds like the best advice ever. The question is, are we following that directive?
Part of the purpose of daily (or even more often) prayer and Bible study is for us to write the knowledge of God into our heads and hearts, to save it back for those times when we are really going to need it. When we are in crisis and can’t find the words to pray, the Holy Spirit does intervene for us, but those words of truth and comfort from Scripture that we have committed to memory provide us a foundation on which we can stand when the world throws its worst at us. We pre-wire ourselves to respond to the Holy Spirit when we load up on the knowledge of Scripture. We can remember God’s truth- and His promises to us- when the world comes crashing down.
We can see why the Shema is so important to Jews and to Christians as well. How can we trust in God’s provision if we don’t soak it up, and pass it around?
The good news is not only to be found in the Gospels. The Bible is saturated with good news of God’s love for us from the beginning and all the way throughout. The Psalms are an especially rich source of comfort and peace and a place to go when we can’t find the words to pray. There is hope when we are at the end of our strength. God gives us provision when our lives are empty. God is as near as our prayers.