Debbie Salter Goodwin
Handling God's Name
I keep my mother’s china in a special place away from my everyday dishes. When I want to use it, I carefully remove one or two pieces at a time. I am deliberate and cautious as I use it because it brings back a little bit of my mother. I set my table with memory and savor her unseen presence.
Should we do any less when we handle God’s name?
The second phrase of the Lord's prayer instructs us to hallow His name. To hallow something is to set it aside to for special use. Although hallow isn’t a word we use a lot today, we understand what it means to treat something or someone with respect and honor. You will not abuse what has worth to you.
It is true that we cannot add anything to God’s name. What I do with God’s name doesn’t change who God is. However, when I misuse His name, use it for effect or slang; I restrict His power in my life.
Our world has become so casual and flippant about everything, it is difficult to find sacred space, a place where we experience God in His glory, His goodness, His unfailing love, and unfathomable wholeness. However, if we learn to let the name of God bring all of who He is to us, He hallows that space and any interchange we have with Him.
Why is God so concerned about the way we use His name? Because His name is a part of our identity, too. We are God’s children, His family, His church. If we bear His name, what we do and say tells others who we think He is.
God’s name rests on us like the most comforting hand of a trusted friend on our shoulder. It is a wordless interchange that speaks volumes: I am here, You are not alone, I believe in you. When we make space in our lives for the hallowed name of God, we take our cues from what God’s name stands for: love, unity, justice, relationship, consistency, kindness, purity. Just like we put on the whole armor, we must take the whole name of God, not selected parts.
The good news is you can’t break God’s name like I could break my mother’s china. But misusing it or adapting to the way the world misuses it will break you. Not suddenly. In small ways that create distance and disconnect. It is a distance you cry against when you go to God in great need. Then, the problem is not that God does not hear you; the problem is that you have calloused yourself against hearing God.
This week, pray that God’s name will hover over you with its hallowed presence. Pray that what God stands for becomes what you stand for. Pray that His Holy name infects you with a spreading awareness of Who God is and then live that knowledge.
This small exercise prepares you for the intimate exchange of true prayer that Jesus wanted His disciples to find when He shared his model. Beginning your prayer this way makes you less anxious about what you want and more desperate for what God wants for you. This is the beginning of your answer, no matter what you pray for.
If you learn something new, share it with me. We can all use new lessons about prayer.