Have These Words Become Too Familiar?
Sometimes, words and phrases become so familiar to us that they may lose how important they are. Consider the words that follow: Please keep your seat belt fastened whenever the seat belt light is on. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal end into the buckle until it clicks, and pull on the loose end to tighten. To open, lift on the top of the buckle. Be sure the seat belt fits low and tight across you lap.
Now let's be honest. How many of us, when we hear the flight attendant sharing those words, are really paying attention to what he or she is saying? Do I really need instruction today in using my seatbelt? Have I forgotten since my last plane ride?
And while we might laugh at that example, I would like to suggest that the same thing can happen in our spiritual journey. Passages of the Bible become so familiar to us that we really don't give them much thought at all. For me, a great example of that is Matthew 6, verse 9:
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.” ESV
Therefore, you should pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, Your Name be honored as holy.” CSB
Like many of you, I have heard those words thousands of times over my lifetime. Most of us recognize them as the beginning of Jesus' model prayer or what many call The Lord's Prayer. But have those first words of Jesus to His disciples become so familiar that you and I have lost the meaning and power of them? Here's what Bill Elliff shares on that from his book, Simply Prayer:
Christ could have instructed us to use any of the multiple names of God as we approach God's Throne. But He instructs us to use the words "our Father." We are approaching the One who has adopted us by His grace into His family. Who sent His Son to rescue us. The One who loves us perfectly. The One who cares for us more than the greatest father on earth. It is an endearing, non-threatening term as we come before God. It is intended to help us realize that we are standing before Him as His beloved son or daughter.
But Christ did not stop there. We are to pray "Our Father, who is in heaven." This is not just any father. Your Father is the One who is above all. He is perfect in all His ways. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He knows every star by name. He created every cell in your body. He owns everything. There is nothing that is not at His disposal. He is the source of every provision and the Giver and Guarantor of every promise. He is your Heavenly Father with all the resources of heaven and earth at His disposal. As we meditate on the privilege of calling God our Father, gratitude should rise in our hearts. We should begin to realize who He is, what He has done, and that He now invites us in to talk with Him. I cannot imagine instantly praying a list of requests at such a moment. If we have genuinely entered in, our first response will be worship. “Hallowed by Your Name”.
It is so incredible that the Lord can pack so much into those few words. My prayers should rightly start from a heart overflowing with gratitude. And as Bill Elliff shares above, that heart of gratitude will naturally pour forth worship of this One so worthy of praise and adoration. The overflow of my heart will spill out in the words I utter. And for me, in those moments of worship, as a friend says, “my heart comes out of my eyes” as tears of gratefulness flow.
So what might this look like in actual prayers we pray today or tomorrow. Again, Bill Elliff has some great thoughts to move us from knowing what we should do to actually putting it into practice:
As you enter in before the Throne, pause and spend time adoring Him. Thank Him for His great names and rehearse what you are seeing in His presence. Thank Him for who He is, but also for what He has done. If you have approached the Throne rightly, you will be overwhelmed with gratitude. Don't rush this moment in prayer. It will set the tone for the rest of your praying. Let a vision of God fill your soul and direct your praise. Don't move forward in petitions until you have hallowed Him in praise!
Let's rehearse those familiar words again: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name.” I hope you and I will never see those familiar words the same again. And beyond how we see them, that those words would move us to a heart overflowing with gratitude and praise to the One we have the great privilege of calling Our Father!
1) Reflect back on what Bill Elliff said in the italicized portions of his book shared in this post. What words or phrases describing our Father stand out to you? Write those down in the space below, along with any other thoughts you have of your Heavenly Father.
2) Write out a prayer to God using the words/phrases you wrote down from the question above. Labor over your words so that they paint a picture of your great gratitude towards the One who created and loves you so deeply. Then take time to pray that to Him in great joy and thanksgiving!
ADDITIONAL: Studying the Names of God can help us grow in our understanding of our Heavenly Father. Names such as Jehovah, Adonai, and El-Shaddai to share just a few. I encourage you to go to the link below to check out and download a great Navigators tool to help you.
LINK: bit.ly/NAV-namesofGod (link is case sensitive)
(1) Simply Prayer by Bill Elliff. Find out more at: https://billelliff.org/products/simply-prayer
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any comments or questions.