How should we pray before meals?
Is there a prayer for going to the toilet?
You've met the Greeks and seen the harmful effects of their ideas on the Christian Church. Let's now venture into the lost Hebrew world of the Bible. Here is a declaration. It is God's big consequence:
God's Big Consequence: Soul = Good, Body = Good
This is a lost truth, corrupted by the ideas of Plato, who could not square up the physical world and the spiritual world. Here's the truth, from God's mouth to your ears, everything is good! The Jews knew it, in fact they still do.
The Hebraic and Biblical view of our human existence is a holistic one, a seamless unity of mind, body and spirit. All are good and beneficial to our well-being. For example, there's nothing crude and un-godlike about our bodily functions.
"Blessed be the LORD God, King of the Universe, who has created humans with wisdom, with openings and hollow parts, revealed before Your holy throne, that if any part of the body was to malfunction, it would be impossible for us to exist and stand before You even for a short time. You cure all flesh and perform wonders!"
Yes, this is the Jewish prayer for going to the toilet. All in life is a gift from God. Opening one's bowels regularly is a blessing (that's one for us oldies!), no more or less than eating or receiving an answered prayer. All should be thanked for and all are present in the Jewish liturgy. Plato would roll over in his earthy grave if he were ever exposed to this most earthy of prayers.
To religious Jews, everything in life is important to God, so it is important to involve Him in all parts of everyday life. Prayer for waking up: "I give thanks before You, Living and Eternal King, who has returned within me my soul with compassion; great is Your faithfulness!"
Here's another one. "Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, Who has this in His universe."
This prayer is quite warming. It's what you tell God when you see an exceptionally beautiful person, tree, or field. There's an even more warming variation on this.
"Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, Who makes the creatures different."
This is what you tell God when you see exceptionally strange-looking people or animals. You see, to the Jewish eye, everything in this World is of interest to God, not just the "spiritual" stuff.
There are Jewish prayers that honour genuine scholarship, whether "sacred" or "secular". On seeing an outstanding Torah (Bible) teacher, there's this prayer:
"Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, Who has apportioned of His knowledge to those who revere Him."
But there's also one on seeing an outstanding secular scholar. Note the subtle difference in wording:
"Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, Who has given of His knowledge to flesh and blood".
Of course any prayer that is offered out of habit and ritual rather than a genuine desire to communicate with God is probably as useless as a burnt offering. It is always going to be a matter of the heart and will, but the general principle is that, in acknowledgement of the fact that God has a passionate interest in all facets of our existence, we have a directory of prayers to draw upon.
For most Christians the only time a prayer is offered for an everyday act is our Grace before a meal. Is it because we believe that God only wants to hear from us in Church, quiet times or prayer meetings? God doesn't keep to an appointment book, His door is always open, even when we've had success in the lavatory!
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Way: And How it Can Find it Again )