Q&A: “How does a gentile pray to Hashem?”

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[First posted February 6, 2014; revived March 20,2016; now being reposted because of a recent entry in our SITESTAT/SEARCH ENGINE TERMS that was intriguing:  “can gentile pray jewish prayers”.   That was addressed in Yo searchers, need help? August 2016.  The short answer to that was this: 


Anyone can pray and if one’s choice is to emulate the formal prayers of any prayerful group/sect/religion, one has freedom to do so provided one agrees with what is expressed, and a universal God is addressed instead of the name of a God that is not one you believe in.

Sample:  Sinaites do not say “amen” to prayers that end up “in Jesus name” when we find ourselves in Christian contexts (funeral rites, mass celebrations preceding investitures, etc.)

Gentiles can pray Jewish prayers if they agree that the One True God is the God of Israel who gave His Name as YHWH.  Even if a gentile does not agree, he can pray the ‘Jewish prayer’, that’s part of individual freedom of religion that Jews themselves respect. But, you must also respect their reasons for avoiding saying the Name of their God, and be satisfied with their substitutions “HaShem”, “G-d”, “L-rd”.



Now back to the original INTRODUCTION to this post:


The Sinaites’ view on prayer has not changed; what might have changed is our growing understanding that our God has left it to us to ‘fixit’, as in ‘tend the garden’, a responsibility He has left for humanity as early as Adam.  This doesn’t mean ‘don’t pray at all’; what it means is don’t turn God into a Santa with a gimme and do-it-for-me list in casual irreverent praying.—Admin].





This question appeared in “Search Terms”.  When a posted article  already answers a ‘Q’, I merely direct the searcher to it in Yo searchers! Can we help you? if he failed to find it in Updated Site Contents.


What made me devote a whole article to this question are two words: 

  • first, “Ha Shem” and
  • second, “gentile.”


 Additionally, I would like to share insights on prayer that we Sinaites have gained from years-long study of the Hebrew Scriptures. 


First, “haShem.”

The dictionary defines ‘circumlocution’ as “the use of many words where fewer would do, esp. in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive”.  Except for the part “deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive”, the word “HaShem” might be categorized as circumlocution, one of the ways Jews avoid saying the Tetragrammaton Name of God.  The English for ‘ha Shem‘ is “the Name.”  Whose name? The God of Israel.   ArtScroll Tanach (AST), one of the Jewish translations we recommend substitutes ‘HaShem’ for YHWH.  (We have many posts about the Jewish avoidance of saying or writing God’s name, so please read those for further clarification.)


The Sinaite’s position on saying/writing the Name of the True God as He Himself revealed it in His Revelation is this:  


How can anyone know the name of the True God

if they never read it nor hear it

because there is this avoidance by the very people

to whom it was declared?


 Is there any prohibition for saying or writing the Name YHWH?


If none, why do the Jewish Scriptures resort to G-D, L-RD,

while the Christian Bibles resort to LORD?

Why not just say the NAME—YHWH with the reverence it deserves?


Sinaites believe that reverence for the True God is actually expressed in declaring His Name to all people on earth who so badly need to hear it! If God Himself revealed His Name, we should declare it LOUDLYand CLEARLY!  How else can we identify who is our God if we keep using “Lord” or “Master” or “God” which religions that worship other Gods also use?


Name is identity.   Identify your God, and let’s see if we’re on the same page.  This is why the official translation of the TORAH (The Five Books of Moses) that we have chosen for this website is Everett Fox who not only uses a poetic format but more importantly, has restored the Tetragrammaton Name YHWH where all other translations have used LORD or HaSHEM.


But back to our question . . . .  As for the word ‘gentile’ – how does a gentile pray to YHWH? Do we gentiles pray any differently from the Jews?


If YHWH the God of Israel/the God of the Nations had given specific instructions on ‘how to pray’ in His revelation on Sinai, this question would not even be asked.  Does His TORAH teach Israel how to pray?  And if so, would it be different for Jew or Gentile?


Image from www.christian-faith.com

The TORAH usually teaches through its narratives about the beginnings of humankind and the beginnings of a people named after its patriarch Jacob/Israel, set apart for God’s purposes of teaching the whole world (yes, Israel and the nations, Jews and Gentiles) HIS WAY of living on planet earth.  Hence, it records key figures (i.e.the first couple, the first brothers, Noah, Israel’s Patriarchs and Prophets),  conversing and interacting with the God who calls them, directs them, gives them instructions.  Would we consider such conversations as ‘prayer’?


The TORAH also includes ‘tributes’ and ‘songs’, all declaring the greatness of their Deliverer and His acts on behalf of Israel. Are they samples of how we should pray to God?


The TNK has many other examples in Neviim (The Prophets) and Ketuvim (The Writings) of prayers written by men inspired by love, awe and reverence for the God of Israel: read Solomon’s prayer after finishing the Temple in Jerusalem; David’s personal prayers at different stages of his life are part of the Psalms, considered as the prayer expressions of Israel.


 The custodians of the Divine Revelation, the Jews, have resorted to their own specific ways of addressing God; Judaism has its SIDDUR which has prayers for every conceivable occasion and they traditionally begin their prayers by blessing God first.


Are non-Jews, gentiles supposed to follow their lead?


Outside of the Hebrew Scriptures, there are prayers from all over the world by gentiles who love and worship the God they do not know (specifically through the TORAH), and yet they reflect almost the same expressions of awe and reverence for the God whose existence they acknowledge in prayer. They see His Hand in His visible creation;  His invisible workings they understand from natural phenomena, the balance and harmony and beauty they attribute to a Designer of all things that sustain life on earth.


Christianity has its own prescription for prayers for its flock, depending on the sect or denomination.

  • Catholics pray their way through their many mediators (Mother Mary and beatified saints) aside from the name of the Son of God.
  • Protestants/Evangelicals pray their way, ending in the name of the only mediator they not only acknowledge but revere as God the Son, “In Jesus Name!”
  • Messianics pray like Jews, except they infuse their Christocentric theology, though emphasizing the Jewish roots of their Christian Messiah, “In the name of Yeshua HaMachiach!”


Really, does YHWH need a mediator between man and Him? How difficult is it to reach a God Who condescends to communicate and explain Himself to humanity?  Read the TORAH and find out for yourself.


Now, how indeed ‘does a gentile pray to hashem’ ?


The Jews have the Siddur to guide them, but what is an unaffiliated gentile’s guide?


I for one have bought about as many ‘how to’ books on prayer as I have every translation of the Christian Bible and the TNK.  Have these books taught me how to pray? Occasionally I have learned how NOT to pray . . . but yes, I’ve learned much about how OTHERS pray.   So would I simply recommend what so-called ‘prayer warriors’ prescribe, like a formula that works for getting prayers answered the way the prayor wants? ‘How to get your way with the Heavenly Father’ . . . . virtually ‘my will be done’.


Image from www.hashtagsmag.com

  • Individual expression is an individual’s choice; this God of Providence we understand as OMNIscient,
  • OMNIpresent,
  • loving-merciful-and full of grace

—most likely hears any sincere utterance from the heart in whatever language expressed, simple or elaborate.

  • A child’s simple words;
  • a dying person’s last words;
  • and everything said between the beginning and end of one’s life,
  • addressed to that SOMEONE he needs to communicate with,
  • whom he presumes would hear him anytime, anywhere;
  • WHO would hopefully understand his expressions of every emotion he feels whether joy or anger, desperation in need, maybe even hate . . . .
  • after all, HE created man with all those emotions,
  • wouldn’t HE understand more than anyone else?

Is this presumptuous thinking?  Really, would God be picky about what, where and when He wants to hear from us? If so, He’d have included it in His Guidelines for Life.


Connection with Him is the first step, in whatever way it happens in one’s life, in good or bad times.  Any time of connection is an ideal time. He is the Eternal while our time on earth is assured only in the ‘now’ moment.


Would He answer ASAP? “It depends”, say prayer-book authors:   “always” there is an answer but it could be any of the three:  ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘Maybe’, or ‘in His time’.   Noticeably, I conclude that in their opinion, ‘Unanswered prayer’ only means that God did not answer the way we wanted or expected.


Some people set limits to prayer, where to do it, how to do it, what to say; others require specific positions, kneel, clasp hands, bow heads, or raise arms, heads up, individual preference is part of free will!  There is a time and place for such requirements, sometimes conditions are set and promises are made.  In a foxhole, it is said there are no atheists.  When the earth shakes, guess what word is on everyone’s lips ‘Oh my God!’?  Would you consider such as ‘prayer’?


 Connection is key, right? We Sinaites simply say, ‘JUST PRAY!’  Individually we’re free to pray as we are inclined to; corporately or in church; formal prayers understandably follow traditional patterns of prayers for their faithful.


Image from www.cartoonstock.com

Have you been guilty of resolving to focus on God in your prayer, only to resort to turning the focus back to yourself, your need, your this, your that?  What we Sinaites have finally understood about prayer is — to quit telling God what to do, the ‘gimme’ self-centered prayer, the ‘change my will, the other person’s will (according to what I want or expect on my time schedule, please God!)’.  God will never invade our will or another’s will; CHOICE is His gift to us.


Free will is a gift and a blessing when we use it as we should, according to His will.  He might arrange circumstances to make us or the other change our direction or choice pattern, but the changing is always up to the individual.  There are people we have prayed for (like forever!) who have remained unchanged, until we were the ones who eventually had to adjust, resigned to the fact the other will probably never change and actually never did! But in the process, God heard frequently from us and we probably heard from Him, we just weren’t listening because we were too full of “my wants”!


So again, ‘how does a gentile pray to Hashem’?


First and last advice:

  • Seek to KNOW
  • and try to UNDERSTAND
  • this awesome GOD through His declarations in His Revelation on Sinai.

He explains Himself in the Torah. The more you get to know Him through His self-declarations, the more reverent you will act toward Him and approach Him in prayer/worship as is fitting for the Creator, the One you regard as your King, your Lord and Master.


The original ending of this post was 3 words: “JUST DO IT!”


Add to that simple advice:  Pray . . .  but this time with reverence to an awesome God,  and call on His Name . . . YHWH.  Would the One True God Whose Name is YHWH respond to prayers addressed to other gods not bearing His Name?  What do you think?






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