Hallowed Be Your Name

When we are aware of someone’s name then we are aware of who they are.

A name defines us.

Some parents put time and meaning into the names they choose for their children, others don’t think too hard but come up with a name they like . But a name defines who we are. It represents us. It identifies who we are. Further, with time and experience, our name may become synonymous with particular things; with a particular family, with a particular place (if we’ve lived there a while), with a particular industry or workplace or organisation, and perhaps even a particular character trait.

I mean, think about the last few months here in Melbourne, how many times have you heard the Karen used in the media? Right now Karen is the name that represents someone who is an obnoxious, entitled, complainer.

But of course, this doesn’t rightly represent all Karen’s. We feel sorry for those people who are actually named Karen and are very nice people. Not all Karen’s are complainers, just like not all Wally’s are wasteful with water.

As we survey scripture we find there are over 100 names for God, many describing and revealing the character and person of God. In Matthew 6:9, continuing on from last week’s post, Jesus teaches us to honour the name of God, to hallow it, to recognise it as holy.

As we come to our Father in prayer we are to recognise that we are coming before God in all his majesty, holiness, righteousness, and beauty. We are children of the One who is all-powerful, all-glorious, all-excellent, and all-holy. And yet in prayer we are able to come before him and enjoy and adore him.

With this in mind, what then does it mean to adore God? I often feel we have inadequate words when we try to describe our adoration toward God.

You see when we adore something in human terms we have our heads affirming our adoration, our hearts yearning toward that which we adore, and our hands open to act toward that which we adore.

We think, we feel, and we act in adoration.

There is a head, heart, and hands aspect to this.

If we adore our particular football team we will watch the games, go to the games, buy a membership, debate others about how superior our team is, wear the scarf, and think often about our team and the players.

When we adore a person we will think about them, we will talk to them, we may have a photo of them on the wall, we will seek out the best for them–we want to be with them.

In prayer, as we show our adoration toward God, we come to him through relationship but we also come to him for who he is. We are drawn to God because of his greatness, his magnificence, his excellencies, his works for us and our world.

It can be stated rather crassly that the adoration component to prayer is simply repeating back to God how good he is. But I think this misses the point. We may well be telling God how good he is when we pray in adoration, but we do so because we recognise that God is God and we are not.

We are, after all, in a relationship with the God of the universe who has done things we cannot comprehend or understand, and whose character is displayed and told to us through his scriptures. Psalm 8 is a good example of adoration toward God, and we would do well to pray this Psalm as a prayer ourselves. It reads,

1 Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
You have covered the heavens with your majesty.

2 From the mouths of infants and nursing babies,
you have established a stronghold
on account of your adversaries
in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I observe your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you set in place,
4 what is a human being that you remember him,
a son of man that you look after him?
5 You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honour.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
7 all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
8 the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.

9 Lord, our Lord,
how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!

The whole Psalm resounds not only in praise for what God has done, but recognises the greatness of God. How majestic is your name in all the earth! It is a true Psalm of adoration toward God.

Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer that to begin prayer in adoration is prayer that highlights God’s goodness and greatness. It honours God’s name as holy. May we do this in our prayers during this time.

Our Father In Heaven

In the Anglican tradition, the Book of Common Prayer defines adoration as ‘…the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.’

I’m not sure about you but I find that hard. 

Prayer is often hard, and I don’t think many believers, whether they are new in the faith or those who are more mature in their faith, think they’re very good at it anyway. I know in different seasons my prayer life changes, it goes up and down, but it can also take on a different shape. Sometimes it is through a list, other times I write them out by hand, other times I pray while doing a particular task–like doing the dishes or vacuuming. 

But when we pray in adoration we turn our hearts and minds not only to the things of God, but to God himself. As we commune with God through prayer we do so in relationship with him.

In this COVID season, as much good there is that comes from text messages, phone calls, family gatherings over Zoom, and FaceTime calls with loved ones, nothing replaces the actual physical presence of being together with those we love and cherish. I’m sure you’ve felt this in recent months. Our relationships and friendships are still in existence during this time, we can still catch up with each other, but there is something missing when we aren’t in each other’s presence. Likewise, our relationship with God is made all the more when through prayer we come and enjoy being with him. 

As Jesus teaches about prayer in Matthew 6:9 he begins by pointing us toward adoration. Adoration in the context of relationship. 

At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer this is described as a familial relationship between God and his children–“Our Father who is in heaven”. It’s not quite as close as ‘Dear Daddy’, but it certainly has a familiarity, a relational tone, that shows a deep and abiding relationship between us and God. 

Through the scriptures God reveals to us that he is a father to his children. The Old Testament portrays God as a father to his people–Israel–in Exodus 3-4; Psalm 2; Psalm 103; and Hosea 11 to name a few. In the New Testament we find that God the Father is, of course, the unique father to his Son, Jesus Christ. And the writers of the New Testament show the intimacy we, as the corporate people of God, have with God as we are considered his children, his sons and daughters. As 1 John 3:1 reminds us, 

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…” 

For those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, we know that the Creator of everything is not a father; he’s our Father. As children we are able to commune and relate to God as one who is our Father. 

Jesus teaches us about prayer as someone who is in perfect relationship with God the Father. Through his perfect and acceptable sacrifice for us on the cross we are able to step into the presence of God as his children. Through the blood of Jesus we have access to the Father, and we come to him as such in prayerful adoration. The relationship we have with God is one that is intimate and personal–a point we can never emphasise too much. 

It is important to recognise that not all earthly fathers live up to our expectations. Earthly fathers are not perfect; they fail us, they fail God, they fail themselves. Yet, whatever our relationship with our earthly father, it does not compare to the perfect love and care shown by God the Father toward us, his sons and daughters. 

Galatians 4:6-8 reminds us powerfully about our identity because of God’s love and care toward us,

“Because you are his sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

As Jesus begins this model prayer for us, and as he teaches us a way to pray, he begins by stating the unbelievable truth that we are in relationship with God–the Creator God of the universe–who we are able to call ‘our heavenly father’.