Summary: Becoming a Person of Prayer Getting Focused ‘hallowed be your name’

Becoming a Person of Prayer

Getting Focused

‘hallowed be your name’

Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 11:1-4

November 21, 2010

Communication is said to be the lifeblood of the marriage relationship. The heartbeat of our faith is relationship and communication is central to any relationship. So we are in the third week of a series on the Lord’s Prayer to help us become more effective in our prayer lives. In this prayer Jesus covers six topics that he expects to be a normal part of our prayer lives.

God wants communication and we need it yet too often it is the weakest link and it shows in our lives and in the disciples. That is why the disciples asked Jesus, ‘teach us to pray.’ The Lords Prayer was given to the disciples to be memorized so when they prayed they covered the topics he considered essential in their prayer life. The topics we are covering are meant to be regular part of our prayer life. Last week, my message was on getting started, focusing on the relationship we have with God our Father. This week our topic is ‘Getting Focused,’ from the phrase, ‘hallowed be your name.’ When Jesus said ‘hallowed be your name’ he wanted us to get focused on God and His agenda in the world.

In the Bible, God reveals his nature and his character through his name(s). Many times a persons name was significant in the bible. The clearest Old Testament example was the patriarch Jacob, whose name means heal grabber or manipulator which was his character and nature. As Jacob was coming out of the womb he grabbed his brother’s heel, jockeying for position over his older brother, the first born son. He grew up to be a manipulator creating such a huge rift with his brother that when they were reunited after years of separation he was afraid that his brother Esau was going to kill him so he sent his wives and children first. Then God began to work in him – shake and break him. He ended up wrestling with God all night and is wounded and crippled for life but he is changed and God changed his name from Jacob to Israel, which means one who strives with God. The best New Testament example is Cephas which means shifting sand and that described his unstable and shaky personality. He becomes a follower of Christ and Jesus changes his name to Peter, meaning rock and he becomes a pillar of early church. For those of you who are huge character flaws, those two stories should give you hope; God is in the business of transforming people.

The primary way God revealed himself to his people in the Old Testament was with the name Yahweh. In Exodus chapter three God called Moses to his leadership role in the Exodus whereby God freed Israel from slavery to the Egyptians after 430 years by the ten plagues and then parting the Red Sea so they could escape from the Egyptian army. In this encounter Moses asked God ‘who shall I say sent me; what is his name?’ God gives his name as ‘I Am who I Am.’ That is a verb form of the name Yahweh (generally translated as Lord in OT). It can be translated three ways: the first is ‘I Am’ expressing Gods existence and being. It communicates that Yahweh is the God who is. It can also be translated in a causative sense, ‘I Cause to be’ meaning that He is what makes everything to be. The last way to translate the verb is ‘I will be Who I will be’ expressing his sovereign power. He is in control and is working all things out according to his plan and for my good.

So as I come to prayer I focus on God my Father, and the name of Yahweh, who is, who causes all things to be, and who is in control and working all things out for my good. As I focus on that I find my heart and mind can rest in him, focus on him, even though I cannot change my circumstances I can change the way I respond to them. I find that I can then rest in the fact that he is in control and is working for my good and it helps me to get focused. I don’t know about you but when I wake up I am not focused on God but on the issues in my life and this helps me to get focused on God and his agenda. So as I think about who God is for me, his sovereign power and will be for me everything I need I can rest and be at peace and can focus in my prayer time.

So we are told to hallow his name. That word, ‘hallow’ means to make holy or to sanctify or honor. So for us it means we are to respond to God in an attitude of worship where we recognize and treat his name as sacred, to honor it. What is the attitude in which God wants us to approach him? We are told in Psalm 100 to ‘enter his courts with thanksgiving and his gates with praise.’ The original context of that Psalm is that there were literal courts and gates that the Jews entered as they left everyday world to go to the temple to worship. As they came to the city of Jerusalem they literally went through gates (twelve of them) and so as they approached God, entering the city gates, they were to approach him with an attitude of thanksgiving and then as got into the city the most visible structure they would see was the temple mount with temple on it. Around the temple was a series of courts. There was the Court of Gentiles for the Gentiles; Court of Men for the men; and the Court of Women, for the women because lay people could not enter into the temple, only the priests could enter the holy place and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies once a year. We do not enter literal gates and courts; buildings are no longer sacred places. When we enter Gods presence, the place we meet with God (any place and any time), we are to come to him with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise. We no longer have a temple because Jesus called himself is the temple. We no longer offer sacrifices because he was the sacrificial lamb to pay for our sin. We can go straight into Gods presence.

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