More than conquerors. That’s what we are in Him. His strength, His power, His love—sealed within us. So when your first morning breath welcomes the return of your soul from God, how should you be before Him? This 17th century prayer helps lead the way.
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READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.
The sun rises. The sun sets. And with God’s immense grace, it begins all over again.
With each new sunrise, each morning you awake, He lovingly and faithfully returns your soul to you—a resurrection of sorts, coming forth from the slumber of night.
Each morning’s breath is a gift from Him, a reminder of His presence and kingship.
There are three revealing Hebrew words used interchangeably in the Bible for soul. One of them is neshama [neh-shah-mah], God’s breath of life.
Just as God breathed His divine breath into Adam (nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], Genesis 2:7) to spark and animate the body’s and soul’s dimensions . . . so He has done with you. His holy breath flows through you. How glorious is that?
Think of it: God’s initial breath gave you life.
Jesus’s last breath redeemed your life.
This 17th century Modeh/Modah Ani prayer—serving as a template, a launching pad for a personal deep-dive with God every morning—helps us remember who He is and what we are, putting things in their rightful perspective from the start.
In fact, it’s usually said before even getting out of bed—but you can say it anytime during the morning.
We say it because . . . . .
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no God.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you don’t know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me.
—Isaiah 45: 5-6 (verses 6-7 in Tanakh/Hebrew Bible).
That’s why when we draw our first breath upon awakening, we can’t help but be . . .
Surrendered to His will and ways, not ours.
Acknowledging that nothing is above or beyond or equal to Him. We admit we’re created to praise, glorify, and serve Him in our thoughts, words, actions.
So let’s get started by . . .
1. Taking a quick stop with the Hebrew and the transliteration—how to phonetically say it in Hebrew. (The English translation is just beneath that.)
2. Then going below the surface to flesh out the deeper meaning tucked within the Hebrew.
3. Next, using the deep-dive reflections as a template to personalize your soul’s words every morning as you greet your King.
PIT STOP: THE HEBREW
One quick thing: the first two words, the title of the prayer, are Modeh ani (word usage for men) and Modah ani (word usage for women).
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה,
Note: the kh and ch are guttural, like a hard “k” sound stuck in the back of your throat. The audio for a female is posted below so you can follow along.
Modeh (a woman says Modah) ani l’fanekha melekh chai v’kayam
shehekhezarta bi nishmahti b’chemla
Modah Ani – Female
I am thankful (I give thanks) before You, living, enduring, sustaining, eternal King [my added reflection on that: King of life, King who sustains us]. You’ve returned my soul within me with compassion. Great is your faithfulness.
DEEPER-DIVE WITH ENGLISH
Rote prayer isn’t your target. You can move beyond the prayer’s words to a more soul-stirring perspective—one that helps you get still and tap into that special place.
I’m talking about His secret place. A protective crevice in Him, our Rock, where the powerful waterfall from His throne rains down on your soul and blesses you with revelation, refreshment, new mercies, and a word from Him, the Creator and Lover of your soul.
How my Modah Ani prayer time flows: I say Modah Ani in phrases, pausing in between each phrase to reflect on what it means to me that morning. I also weave in prayer requests at one juncture (just before the final phrase).
The template below—broken into phrases with deeper reflections after each phrase—gives an example of how you can personalize Modeh/Modah Ani every morning.
Let the Holy Spirit lead you as you consider what’s in your soul at that moment when you think of Him, when you think of you standing before Him, when you think about His immense faithfulness and majesty.
Modeh/Modah ani: I am thankful (I give thanks)
Deeper reflection: I am awake, my eyes open, and my soul acknowledges and is aware that there is something greater than me—You, God, Ruler of the universe.
l’fanekha: before you
Deeper reflection: I—my innermost self, my soul—is here, before you, shadowed and overcome by your greatness, too marvelous for me to comprehend, too deep for me to fathom. I am stilled by your Name, your character, your might.
In this moment, I realize that there’s no need for debate. You are the Glorious King. Period. You who created me.
I’m grateful for who you are and what you’ve done for me. I surrender before your Lordship. I am yours.
Writing that just prompted my spirit to also share lyrics from a worship song sung in the mid-80s about God’s Holy Spirit, a consuming fire, reminding us to approach Him in humility, in awe:
Consume me, consume me with your fire, Lord.
Consume me, consume with your fire.
Consume me, consume with your fire, Lord,
that I might know the power of your love.
melekh chai v’kayam: King, living and eternal (sustaining/enduring)
Deeper reflection: You are here with me in this physical world . . . yet you are on your throne, high and lifted up, holy and just, righteous and merciful, eternal without a beginning or an end. You are too marvelous for me.
You are the unseen God that my soul sees and knows. You are the promised author and perfecter of my faith. In You—through our messiah, Yeshua (Jesus)—is life, sustaining, full, complete, good.
Your Word is everlasting, relentlessly faithful, forever true—and it lives within my soul, correcting me, leading me, teaching me, refining me, reminding me, hemming me in. Day in, day out. With every soul-breath inhaled, with every soul-breath exhaled. You are there.
shehekhezarta bi (bee): you’ve returned within me (restored)
nishmati: my soul (breath of life)
b’chemla: with compassion (mercifully, graciously)
Deeper reflection: You have graced me with another morning. A day to serve you, to speak of your greatness and character, to speak your Name, to share the Good News of salvation through our Messiah, to do whatever you ask me to do this day. Your breath flows through me . . . I am yours.
But you didn’t return my soul because of obligation or randomly, without thought. You returned it with intentionality, a purpose . . . and you did it personally—from You to me. Not merely in one fell swoop, generically to the masses. Your love, mercy, grace, compassion rose up from your throne and blessed me with another breath to walk with you on earth and serve you.
You alone know the number of days you’ve given to me . . . So please teach me to number my days that I may have a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Your kindness and love overwhelm me. Thank you, my Lord, my King, my God.
Intercession: If I feel led—and most of the time I do—this is where I begin intercession for critical needs that day for others . . . then I thank Him because I can go nowhere else for help . . . it’s His faithfulness that I’m counting on.
raba emunatekha: abundant/great is your faithfulness
Deeper reflection: Who is like you? Faithful and true, King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16). What am I that you’re mindful of me (Psalm 8:1-4) . . . how vast is your faithfulness, how deep is your love, what breadth, what height (Ephesians 3:14-19), and how mighty are your ways.
Guide me today, let me hear your voice in my soul, and please help me to do your will, lifting up your name wherever you send me, becoming a carrier of your presence, conquering by the words of my testimony . . . telling of your goodness, grace, salvation, and faithfulness.
Blessings on you, precious ones in the Lord. May He cover you in the shelter of His wings as you go deeper to seek His face and serve your King.
CREDIT: Dove photo by Irochka_T purchased 2014 via iStock
CREDIT: Wrecking ball basic photo by alphaspirit with my text added on—purchased 2021 from iStock.com (ID:1204137944).
CREDIT: Morning, man praying photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com
CREDIT: Women, calm, reflective photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash.com
NOTE: Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s commentary on Modeh Ani (chabad.org) further sparked my morning Modah Ani reflections.