Tag Archives: prayer

thoughts on the Lord’s name.

so at new life i’m taking a sunday school class on the Lord’s prayer, taken from the gospel of matthew. the first few weeks were spent on prayer in general; what it is, the implications of prayer, types of prayer, ways of praying that are sinful… lots of different aspects of it.

by the grace of God, it has never felt awkward or weird to talk to Him. for me, praying has never felt like a chore (unlike, for example, the way i often struggle with being in the word). it’s simply how i communicate with God. and it’s been such a blessing to think more deeply on the significance of that, on what it means when i’m actually praying to the Creator of the universe. each week i come away loving God more and with a deeper appreciation and gratitude for the gift of prayer.

recently, we began to go through the Lord’s prayer itself, taking a week or two on each petition (which is a request/piece/line of the prayer, basically). the last two weeks were spent on the first: hallowed be Your name. and i learned a lot. a whole lot. as usual, it gave me lots to think about.

what’s in a name? is it just a label, a word we use in order to distinguish to whom we speak? some may say so. but most of us recognize that there is something inherently significant found in a name. names are part of our identity. they are part of who we are. names are linked with memories and feelings and thoughts and ideas. i was talking with one of my housemates, tom (read some of his stuff here), about how hearing the sound of our names is a beautiful thing; it catches our attention, and when spoken by someone we love, it is a way to feel that love.

we can see in the Bible the significance of names, especially when they are changed. abraham and israel come to mind, both given a new name in order to signify something profound (God’s promise and God’s people, specifically). God has many names. i’ll touch on that in just a second. but perhaps the best way He himself sums up His name is when he speaks to moses through the burning bush in exodus 3:14. moses asks Him what he shall tell the israelites when they ask him who sent him, and this is God’s response:

I am who I am. this is what you are to say to the israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

that doesn’t sound like a name. that’s a verb. that’s a state of being. God recognizes that human language isn’t enough to encompass everything He is. that’s one of the reasons He has so many names; each reveals a facet of His identity (on a side note that could be its own post, each of God’s names also reveals a facet of our relationship to Him; when we call Him King, we are calling ourselves His subjects; when we call Him Lord, we are acknowledging His lordship over us; when we call Him Father, we are calling ourselves His children). so when we talk about the name of God, we’re not just talking about a label. we’re talking about everything that God is.

so what does it actually mean when we are praying that the Lord’s name be hallowed? that’s not a word we use in everyday language. in fact, i think i’ve only ever heard it in the context of the Lord’s prayer. since it’s the first petition of the prayer, it’s easy (for me) to brush over it as part of “the intro”, instead of considering the weight of those words.

to “hallow” means to make or acknowledge as holy. in essence, we are praying that the name of God would be glorified and magnified. in our case, though, we have nothing to do with making God’s name holy; He is fully and completely holy already. when we say to God “hallowed be Your name”, we are doing two things: acknowledging His holiness (including the holiness in His very name) and expressing a desire for all people to do the same. that’s what it means to magnify the name of God. when you hold a magnifying glass up to something, you aren’t making it more real… you’re simply making it easier to see. so it is when we magnify the name of God. His holiness is able to be seen through us when we glorify Him… when we hallow His name.

but why do this? why does it matter?

well, first of all, it’s what we were created for. we were created to bring God glory (isaiah 43:7) and we are called to do everything in the name of His Son, Jesus (colossians 3:17). secondly, we can’t do it on our own. we need God’s help to live in a way that hallows His name. when we pray this way, we aren’t just asking that His name be hallowed in our words, but in our whole lives. that’s our purpose. there’s so much to unpack there, but this post is long enough as it is, and people far more eloquent have already shed some beautiful light on the subject.

i’ll close out with two implications. 

first, a deeper understanding of the Lord’s name naturally draws us back to the fourth commandment. we as christians are commanded never to take God’s name in vain. but the fact is, we do not live in a reverent world. existing in the midst of a culture who doesn’t truly understand or care about reverence, much less revering the name of the Lord, doesn’t make things easy. i don’t think i’m over-exaggerating when i say that it would be unusual to watch one episode of television without hearing the Lord’s name being taken in vain at least once or twice.

perhaps, though, those are the obvious ways. i personally haven’t made a habit of texting “OMG” (or saying it out loud… good grief) to my friends, but i am 100% guilty of using the name of the Creator in a throw-away fashion… when i pray. yep. that doesn’t make sense. but looking back, i see countless times that “Jesus” or “Lord God” was used as nothing but filler. in essence, i replaced “yeah” or “uh” with the name of God, as something i mindlessly say while i wait for the important words to come to mind.

yikes. that is the opposite of magnifying His name. i am much more aware of what i say now when i pray. additionally, while i didn’t have much of a stance on it before, i’ve decided to stop using the word “holy” as an adjective of anything except God (there are many times in past posts that i’ve used the phrase “holy crap” for the purpose of emphasis). i don’t feel comfortable pairing a word that can only apply to God with anything else.

finally, understanding the Lord’s name and it’s role in our prayer points us back to the gospel. we see in the old testament examples of people who were struck down because they did not approach God in a worthy manner (this connects, i promise). invoking the name of God is no light matter. when we pray, we are speaking with the One who breathes out stars. the One who knows each of us intimately because He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He is holy, set apart, weighty.

but we have no reason to worry or fear coming into the presence of God in an unworthy manner. why? because we are in Christ, which means we have been reconciled (romans 5:9-11)! we have complete access to God, because of the work Jesus did on the cross. that means we can come to Him at anytime with anything, for any reason, no matter where we are! that is such beautiful news!

we will never fully understand or appreciate that profound beauty, though, unless we have an accurate picture of the holiness of God; the holiness found in His very name.

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a bunch of beginnings.

guys, staff training has officially started. and it is amazing.

allow me to brag on this year’s crop of new recruits. they are so, so awesome. they love Jesus, they love camp, and they are ready to love those kids. it’s already evident that everyone here is willing to do the work it’s going to take to make this summer amazing.

things i love:

1.) starting the week with prayer.

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we are a people who are powerless without Jesus. we cannot do the things that need to be done unless His Holy Spirit is moving mightily in our hearts and in the lives of our campers. we are cars without gas. we are unplugged lamps. we are tools that need to be used to be useful. and while that may seem to paint a bleak picture, the glorious truth is that we have the fuel, we are connected to the One with true power, and we are utilized by the Creator of the universe. that is insane. but so, so cool.

2.) crazy costumes at camp.

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yes, that first one is a guy dressed up as kevin from up. just more reasons i love camp. my cabin and i dressed up as killer whale trainers. even did a whole choreographed routine (okay, maybe giving us a bit too much credit).

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turns out two other cabins also dressed up as killer whales. coincidence? or sign of great things to come? i tend to think the latter.

3.) meeting new friends. and seeing old ones.

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camp is a place to meet people that you will stay close with for the rest of your life. God is creative in the ways He brings people together. something that i take a whole lot of comfort in when i’m feeling lost or unsure is that God not only is with us every step of the way, but He actually planned each of those steps. and He did so because, wherever you’re at, the circumstances you’re experiencing are what will best glorify Him and accomplish His plan. makes things seem a little more secure.

i think He loves to do this with people. people are brought into our lives at specific moments when we need them, often sharing truth and wisdom that are deeply needed. i’ve experienced this at camp, at school, and at home. i’m excited to see this happen with the staff this summer.

have i mentioned they’re awesome?

4.) opening campfire.

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we didn’t have it where we usually do, but that doesn’t mean it was any less awesome and crazy and loud and fun. one of the things we talked about tonight was camp culture. craziness is just a slice of it. family and belonging, acceptance and encouragement, and love and fellowship were all mentioned. i love to be able to work at a place whose culture is so beautifully reflective of the way Jesus loves His church. it makes me excited for the rest of the summer. maybe i’ve mentioned that already.

friends, camp is here and i am beyond blessed. we went around at devotions and shared our favorite part of the day. mine was right before dinner was served… for the first time since i’ve been at camp this summer, i was joined in singing grace by the voices of all the staff. it was such a happy moment.

things like that happen at camp.

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“matt mccoy just dragged us into the throne room…”

if a fantastic christmas wasn’t awesome enough, a few days later i got to head to indy for indycc, cru’s christmas conference. because God wanted it to start off the best way possible, i spent the drive up with this beautiful man:

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vince. sweet guy, sweet conversation. we got to catch up on the work God’s been doing in each other’s lives, and generally just talk about how awesome God is. best way to start, ever.

usually there’s one speaker at indycc, but this year there were three. i prefer one for the continuity, but i really appreciated the different styles of speaking and the different messages each one brought.

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bryan lorritts spoke from matthew 21 on friday night, from the passage where Jesus curses the fig tree for not bearing fruit. that’s always been a slightly confusing passage for me (perhaps an overreaction, Jesus? hmm?), but bryan offered some insight. in the passage right before this, Jesus gets angry at those in the temple, flipping tables and all that, because the religious people weren’t actually honoring God at all. when a fruit tree grows leaves, it is proclaiming that it bears fruit. ultimately, Jesus didn’t cause the fig tree to wither because there was no fruit as much as because it claimed to have fruit that didn’t actually exist. like the religious people in the temple, it wasn’t doing what it claimed to be doing (producing fruit).

another parallel he drew was that trees don’t have to try really hard to produce fruit… it comes naturally. in the same way, those who are in Christ and have the Spirit sometimes try really, really hard to be good at being Christians (this is the part where i started shaking my head, because he was describing my life). but if we pursue Christ, that fruit comes naturally. pretty cool how God designed it like that.

the following morning he spoke on matthew 25, emphasizing that if we claim to be in Jesus, there is no room for us to not focus on those in need, because it was such a huge part of Jesus’ ministry. there’s also biblical precedent to create margin in your budget specifically to give stuff away (beyond a tithe or something like that). comes down to two questions: how much is actually, literally, enough? and how much do i trust that God will provide? made me think a lot about how much i cherish money in a purely selfish sense.

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paul tripp (and his magnificent moustache) addressed the men basically right after bryan got done that morning. he spoke from hebrews 3:12-13, about what it means to have a hardened heart and how important community with other believers is.

turns out, rocks and hardened hearts share lots of characteristics: stubborn and typically un-moldable, unable to grow and change (and without a desire to do so anyway), and neither is impressed with God’s grace (and in my experience that’s true… no rock i’ve ever shared the Gospel with has been impressed). he asked us an important question: do we see God’s grace as the gift it is, desiring to squeeze every drop possible out of it? or are we benefitting from, as my wise roommate dan puts it, a very cheap form of grace, only asking for forgiveness after sin? it’s so, so much deeper and better than that.

a hardened heart also has stopped believing in God’s commands and promises, both in their importance and truth. and since sin is incapable of recognizing itself, seeing sin in my life is always and only the result of God’s grace. it’s also the reason that we need to be in community: so others can be pointing out sin in our lives. there’s a fear that comes with that level of being known, but also such great freedom. it’s the same freedom we find in being completely known by our God.

i will never not need grace. and i will never not have it.

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mike erre was the speaker last year, and the stuff he brought just blew my mind. so i was pumped that he was back, and i was excited to hear what he had to say. i was not disappointed. he spoke from ephesians 1 on monday morning, redefining the concept of adoption.

adoption is a common analogy used in the new testament when describing God’s relationship with His people; paul likes to talk about it. i’ve always thought it was nice, but didn’t read too much into it. the key, mike pointed out, was to realize when and to whom paul was writing. obviously, he’s talking to the people of ephesus, but it’s in the wake of alexander the great’s hellenistic project, which involved pasting greek values into the cultures of all his conquered territories.

one of these values was the perfection of mind and body. imperfect infants would be left outside, exposed to the elements, where they would die. often there was a chosen place away from the village, perhaps up on a hill where the child would easily succumb to the elements. they were rejected, shamed, and worthless in a perfect society. paul’s language of adoption, of being chosen and now found “blameless” in verses 5-6 paints a picture of a father running madly up that hill, scooping the child up in his arms, and bringing him back home to live as an honored, adopted member of the family. to the ephesians, this was a foreign concept.

to imagine a God who would madly and recklessly pursue us in the midst of our shame and imperfection  without asking anything from us in return is a concept that doesn’t make sense, because our brains aren’t quite wired for that kind of love. but we were created for it. that’s the Gospel.

anyway. there was a lot more that those guys talked about, but those were the main, awesome points. i was encouraged, convicted, and excited after leaving.

we also got to have some really sweet worship with matt mccoy and the harvest worship band every day.

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and one night phil wickham came and gave us an acoustic concert! i’d never really listened to a ton of his music before, but it was one of the most worship-filled evenings ever. he gives such an authentic, God-centered performance, and I walked out totally praising the Lord. it was awesome. and now i’m a huge fan, so that’s great.

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there was also a beard contest. each university sent up the guy with the best beard.

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i had the honor of representing ball state! i’m sixth in from the right:

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i lost to two extremely impressive beards and one girl who had wrapped her hair around her chin. but you know, that’s okay.

other things that were awesome:

time with friends.

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lots of friends.

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singing hymns with off script[ure] on stage for session one morning.

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praying in the new year with close friends. definitely one of the coolest things ever.

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God is good, He does cool things, and He works in the hearts of His people.

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