What Are We Conscious of When We Pray?
Text: Matthew 6 : 1 - 18
When we pray, most of the time, we are conscious of our needs. Our personal needs drive us to cry out to God in earnest desperation. Unfortunately, this zeal in prayer lasts only as long as our needs and our prayers are not yet answered.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray quite differently. He taught them to be acutely conscious of who God is, rather than of personal needs. Hence He urged them to be conscious of hallowing God’s Name.
“HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME”
What did Jesus mean when He made this statement? Let us consider some important texts in the Scriptures that would help us appreciate what it means to “hallow” or “sanctify” God’ Name.
When king David managed to successfully bring in the Ark of the Lord into Jerusalem, he delivered a psalm to Asaph and his fellow Levites. This psalm was meant to extol the Lord.
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His Name…”
1 Chronicles 16:8(Cf. Psalm 105:1)
David began his prayer of thanksgiving by calling upon God’s Name. This squares with what Jesus was teaching His disciples!
David went on to add the following thoughts about the Name of God.
“Glory in His holy Name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!”
1 Chronicles 16:10
He was right to use the adjective “holy” to describe the Name of God. Every believer who seeks God in prayer must have a healthy or even better, a heightened consciousness of God’s holy Name.
The Book of Malachi offers one of the most significant texts on the subject of hallowing God’s Name. Though Israel had been chastened by the Lord for its idolatrous inclinations, the nation did not seem to have learned its lesson! There was still a blatant disregard of the Name of God in the land.
Malachi was sent to specially address this matter with the children of Israel. Let us consider some of the most significant statements in the sacred writ on the subject of hallowing God’s Name.
“‘…from the rising of the sun, even to its going
down, My Name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My Name,
And a pure offering;
For My Name shall be great among the nations.’
Says the Lord of hosts…
‘I am a great King,’
Says the Lord of Hosts,
‘And My Name is to be feared among the nations. ‘ ”
Malachi 1:11, 14f
God sent a powerful reminder to Israel concerning His Name. The following things were emphasized:-
1. The Greatness of God’s Name
Those who professed that they believed in God must take great care to honour God’s great Name. Israel had somehow lost its regard and respect of God’s Name. The priests of Israel were charged with actually despising God’s Name (Cf. Malachi 1:6).
2. God – A Great King
God was a Great King indeed. Yet the children of Israel had not honoured Him with appropriate gifts when they presented their offerings. They gave the blemished and the sick to God as offerings and thus insulted Him terribly (Cf. Malachi 1:7-8).
3. God’s Name is to be feared (revered)
Israel should have known better. Lesson after painful lesson had been taught! Each time Israel despised and dishonoured God’s Name by rebelling against Him, He disciplined them. The final act of discipline was a 70-year exile to Babylon!
When the children of Israel returned to their homeland, they tried to keep God’s laws. But before too long, they backslided and once again dishonoured the Name of God. Once again the Lord had to teach the nation how to fear His Name.
THE CONCEPT OF HALLOWING GOD’S NAME
The following thoughts are closely associated with the concept of hallowing God’s Name. Among other things, the following may be highlighted.
1. Reverence for God’s Name
The essential idea is that of having a special sacred regard for the Name of God. This is not an easy thing to cultivate. It takes conscious practice.
2. Honouring of His Name
Every child would desire to honour the Name of God! He would do anything to safeguard the honour of God’s good name.
3. Glorying in His Name
Every child of God should find great joy and glory in being able to call upon the Name of God. Addressing God as Father should be done with sincere joy. Do we call upon God’s Name in prayer with true joy?