“But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them?’

God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’”

Exodus 3:13-15

“God elevated [Christ Jesus] to the place of highest honour
and gave him the name above all other names…”

Philippians 2:9

Katie reflects on the importance of pausing to acknowledge who it is we’re invited to pray to:

In ancient biblical times a person’s name was often closely related to what he or she was. The name Abraham means ‘father of nations’ (Genesis 17:5). The name Israel means ‘he struggles with God’ (Genesis 32:28). The name Moses means ‘delivered from the water’ (Exodus 2:10). And God our Father in heaven gave himself the name Yahweh which means ‘I am who I am’ or ‘I will be who I will be’ (Exodus 3:13-14).

The name of God was of paramount importance in ancient Israel and many times in the Old Testament we read of how Israel’s leaders appealed to God’s great name when they interceded on behalf of his people (for example look at Moses’ prayer in Numbers 14:13-20).

I am who I am. God the One who has no beginning and no end, ‘from everlasting to everlasting you are God’ (Psalm 90:2) cries the psalmist. Our God, the One who always was, who never had a beginning. Our limited minds cannot fathom this; all we can do is bow before the throne of God and acknowledge his greatness.

And it is in this reflective attitude that Jesus teaches us to pray ‘hallowed be your name’. Jesus was utterly loyal to his heavenly father, and fervently jealous for the honour and glory of his Father’s name, the name ‘above every name’ (Philippians 2: 9).

Jesus instructs us to pause and acknowledge the Father’s name. It is a prompt to pause and reflect on the highest name, to praise and adore the name that is above every name. It is a reminder to consider the greatness of God, his power and authority and holiness, and to put ourselves in our rightful place as we come before him. It allows us actively to choose to praise and worship before we bring our petitions and requests in prayer. And as we recall the holiness of God, it prompts us to consider our own lifestyle, and how far we honour the name of God through our attitudes, words (said and unsaid) and behaviour.

How easy it is to move to needs (others as well as our own) and to naming the desire of our hearts and requests not yet answered in our prayers and waiting before God. I see this in my own life; and I see also how God in his patient mercy guides me towards praise, thanks and adoration despite myself. And it has been my personal experience that every time I reflect on the greatness, power and holiness of my God in praise and worship, my attitude changes; my focus shifts to the faithfulness, grace and mercy of God in every situation and circumstance that I bring before him in prayer.

Questions

When did you last pause, acknowledge and praise God’s name, the name that is ‘above every name’ (Philippians 2: 9)?

How far do we regard God’s name as holy; and are there ways that we could choose to honour God’s name better in our prayer lives and more widely in our everyday life?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, make us zealous for your name to be honoured. Teach us what it means to respect your name, and may it be the cry of our hearts to see your name glorified. Today, we come before you and acknowledge that there is no higher name than yours, your name is the name that is above every name. Amen.

Prayer for five friends

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.