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5 Hebrew Words to Pray

5 Hebrew words that can enrich your prayer.
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Prayer can be boring. We say the same things in the same words over and over again. We tend toward the same subjects and concerns, and all that “sameness” can lead to monotony and frustration.

That is one good reason (among many) to introduce the richness, depth, of variety of a few Hebrew words into your praying.

You probably already use the most common Hebrew prayer word—“amen”—which can mean several things but is most commonly understood as “yes, let it be so.” But here are five other Hebrew words that can inform, guide and enrich your prayers:

1)  Hallelujah
You already knew this word. Hallelujah and its root word, “halal,” occurs dozens of times in the Psalms. It means simply “praise God!” In public worship it is frequently sung (e.g., “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”) and sometimes shouted. It is less often used in private times of prayer. But it doesn’t have to be excluded from your personal prayer life.

Try saying hallelujah anytime your soul swells with praise and thanks to God. Say hallelujah to express your appreciation for God’s beauty, faithfulness, power and presence.

If you pray the “Gloria/Glory Be,” you might even sometimes substitute the Hebrew equivalent for the English word “glory” or “praise.” (“Hallelujah to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” etc.)

Ask Guideposts’ OurPrayer team to pray for you!

2)  Teshuvah
Literally, “return,” teshuvah is the Hebrew word for “repentance.” It doesn’t mean to “be sorry” but to “turn around,” to change direction and “do a 180,” so to speak. Teshuvah is such an important concept that the Talmud says God created repentance before He created the physical universe. So include teshuvah in your prayers, not only confessing your sins but turning your back on them and returning to your God.

3)  Tsedek
When David sang, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3, NKJV), he sang the word, tsedek. When Amos prayed, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24, NIV), he used the Hebrew words tsedek (righteousness) and mizpat (justice).

Tsedek means not only upright behavior but also just and wise actions. So pray for more tsedek in your life and community and world.

4)  Chesed
Chesed is one of the richest and deepest words in the Hebrew language. It is most often translated as “lovingkindess” or “mercy” in the Bible. It is intrinsic to God’s character and incumbent upon God’s people. Chesed is so rich in meaning that it can’t be expressed with a single English word.

Read More: 6 Ways to Pray While You Exercise

When you pray for chesed in your life and the lives of those around you, you pray for God’s beauty, grace, kindness, mercy and generosity to flow in and from the objects of your prayer.

5)  Shalom
Shalom means “peace.” But, like chesed, it is a much bigger word than that single syllable. Shalom is used by Hebrew-speakers to say “hello” and “goodbye.” It is a prayer (Psalm 122:6). It is a blessing (Psalm 122:8). It conveys not only the idea of peace but also of health and wholeness, of everything being right and pleasing.

So say shalom in your prayers. Pray for the shalom of God, “which transcends all understanding, [to] guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV). Pray for shalom to rule your heart, life, home, family, church, community, country and world.

Just five words, but each is rich in meaning. Each holds far more beauty than the most common English equivalents. And each can make a difference not only in how you pray but also in how God answers your prayers.

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