The Need for Phylacteries

Riggs Ministry Minute: For when there’s only a minute for ministry              Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D. Min.       

True North Ministries   www.docriggs.com

6 May 2012

Immediately I begin with an explanation to our Jewish friends, particularly any orthodox worshippers of YHWH. My writing is not intended to mock or to give less importance to the use of, or the teaching concerning the Tefillin. In actuality, I hope to show how the concept behind the wearing of phylacteries (and the prayer time attached to it) is most needed in our hectic world today. Anyone with an interest in learning the specifics of their history, with what they are made and how they are applied may enjoy a visit to: www.Jewishencyclopedia.com. Actually, my path to where I rise at 3 a.m. to write this includes several stops along the way. I will mention only two. The first is an overseas flight where, as we approached Israel’s coastline with the new day’s sun greeting us, the gentleman sitting next to me took a phylactery from his luggage and began the slow process of donning it. I watched in ignorance and later read to understand. My second stop was just recently in the home of dear friends, the wife in her upper 80’s, the husband just into his 90’s. She explained a conversation she would have with my son, Daniel, before he leaves in a few weeks for the Army. This dear friend is a devout Catholic and her story is an off-shoot of that faith!

Both my friend who wishes to counsel Daniel and this stranger aboard an intercontinental flight depend on a similar interaction between man (a person) and God. My friend’s message is that we must, for a minimum of five minutes per day, stop completely what we are doing and remove all thoughts from our mind except that Jesus is all around us. She went on… “You don’t have to say anything”… just be still, waiting on God to speak to you. You will feel it perhaps when silent, an answer, a quiet peace, an incomprehensible feeling that you just received an affirmation. The key is to be silent and allow God to speak. A well-rehearsed verse is Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted among the earth.” (KJV)

This is where the phylacteries make sense. The two ‘boxes’ with scripture in them are held on to the forehead and left arm of the intercessor with a leather cord that is attached by a precisely tied knot. One represents praying with your entire mind, the other with all your heart (it is close in proximity to the heart). Here is where it truly hit home for me. The remainder of the cord is then wrapped several times around the left hand. It is not to just wrap up extra cord, it is to occupy the hand that otherwise would find a way to busy itself, even while the mind and heart are trying to commune with God. Certainly there is much more to all of this, the kosher aspects of each part of the phylactery is amazing, down to the way in which the threads are made. So please, this is just to make a point, not to teach the wonderful intricacies of the phylactery prayer model.

This is the theological anthropology (or Christian anthropology) with a smattering of pneumatology[i]   for the divinity students out there. God interacting with man. What is so incredible about the communing between the all-powerful, supreme ruler of the universe who chooses to not only talk and share with us; He chooses to patiently wait for us since we are often too busy to pray. So, God waits. He desires a relationship and we desperately need the direction and the peace we can receive by praying and studying God’s Word.

I desire to have my mind focused, my heart tuned and my hands kept from the distractions of life so I can more often and more clearly, hear that still small voice that brings about a peace that only God can give.


[i] The study of the Holy Spirit, His interactions in the world and within the believer

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