The Big Guy in the Sky?

We love our casual society, don’t we? Our letters, if we write such things any more, no longer include greetings like “Dear Mr. Smith,” or even “Dear Joe.” We start with a “Hey” or “Dude.”  Titles are mostly seen as unnecessary or even phony. And, yes, unless I knew someone well, first names were not used. It was Mr. Jones or Mrs. Smith.  

In my early years of ministry, 45 years ago (!!), it was standard to use the title “Pastor” with the last name attached. It was just the way it was done. It was a way to show respect.  Now I’m just “PJ” which I love, by the way, no formality required.  

Is informality in social interaction good? I leave that to your preference, but there is one place where I believe it has a detrimental result: when we lose our respect for the God we address in our prayers.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name.”  His prayer reflects the reverence for the Name of God that was engrained in the Jewish religion and culture. God’s name, YHWH, was so revered that the devout never uttered it aloud. Thus, we have no real knowledge of how it is pronounced. Our “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” are guesses.

When you are reading the OT and come on the word LORD (in all caps) that is a place where God’s Name appeared (YHWH) and when the passage was read, His Name was left unspoken, with the substitution of the word Adonai, literally – Lord.  Why all this fuss? Because God is great, and our prayers are deepened with faith when we refuse to diminish Him.

“Hallowed” is one of those words that has lost meaning for us so it is better that we should read it thus- “Our Father in Heaven, Holy (or sanctified) is Your name.”   Jesus, when praying for us, uses the same word that is translated “hallowed” in the Lord’s prayer in His request.  He asks His Father to “Make them pure and holy (*hallowed) by teaching them your words of truth.” (John 17:17, NLT)  Paul also prays similarly for us.  “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify (*hallow) you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NIV)

Our prayer life will suffer when we make God too small or too tame. Oh yes, He is knowable and relational, but He remains distinct and powerful. Jesus came to make Him known, but not to take away His majesty. Great faith grows in the soil of God’s majesty, His utter holiness, His unfathomable power. That is why the Proverb reminds us that The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV)  When we tame God, when we rob Him of the mystery of His greatness, our prayers become timid, our ability to rest in His care is lost. 

And yet, as Christians we can come close to Him, loving Him.  Paul speaks of Him as “Abba” a term of intimacy. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16, NIV)  Abba is a term similar to our Dad. My kids call me Dad or Pops, not out of disrespect, but because we are connected by familial love.  So, we enter the Presence of our Father, deeply respectful, yet able to address Him as our Abba, One who loves us, cares for our needs, desires our worship.

Let us pray with true love and deep respect.  Resist the informality of our age that could lead you to rush into His Presence without your heart prepared. Remember, He is not “the Big Guy in the sky.” He is God, Almighty.

Here is a word from the Word. As you meditate on them, may the Spirit bring you near to the Father so that you can feel the warmth of your ‘Abba’ in Heaven.
“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be revered above all the gods.

The gods of other nations are merely idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!

Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. …

Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
Let all the earth tremble before him.”
(Psalm 96:4-6, 9 NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

______________

Good, Good Father
(a prayer song!)

I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good Good Father
It’s who You are, It’s who You are
It’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, It’s who I am
It’s who I am

I’ve seen many searching for answers
Far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers
Only You provide
Because You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Love so undeniable I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love love love

Anthony Brown | Pat Barrett © 2014 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Common Hymnal Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Housefires Sounds (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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