1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New Revised Standard Version)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Some people are able to feel constantly connected with God, with prayer seeming as natural and easy as breathing. But for many others it is more of a struggle. That’s really not surprising! After all, most human conversations are conducted with a minimum of one additional human nearby. There is an audible give-and-take with both parties speaking. Or, even if one person is monopolizing the conversation, the other person still may respond by head nodding, shoulder raising, or (if the monologue has gone on just a wee bit too long) eye rolling.
That can make prayer, admittedly, somewhat of a weird conversation. God is not visible to us, most of us don’t hear God’s voice or experience God’s physical presence. And yet we’re told over and over again throughout scripture that God wants us to talk with him. And in today’s scripture passage, Paul is very clear about how we’re supposed to pray: constantly.
Jesus knew that this would be a challenge for us. That’s why in Luke 11, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them a simple prayer. As it’s recorded in Matthew 6, Jesus just anticipated their question about this fundamental need for communication with God, telling them this: “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
I want to walk briefly through this pithy, concise prayer that Jesus offers. It’s a prayer that I use every day, and when I do something every single day it’s super easy for it to become passionless, rote and meaningless…
That is so very, very far from what God desires for us! Prayer is designed to be a dynamic conversation, a means of deepening the relationship between us and God. That’s why Jesus gave us this beautiful, powerful prayer! So, what does it tell us about our relationship with God? Over the next few days, I’d like to explore “The Lord’s Prayer.” It begins…
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
“Hallowed” means to regard something as holy, as sacred. Someone told me recently about a child’s definition of love: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” When we love someone, we talk about them differently, don’t we? When we’re with our friends, we tell the stories that showcase our loved one’s best qualities. We use positive descriptors for them: smart, beautiful, funny, nice, kind. One of the many (many!) things I love about my husband is that I know he speaks about me with respect— even when I’m not there to witness it. I know that my name is safe in his mouth, and he knows the same about me.
Likewise, when we love God, the way we talk about God will reflect that trust and respect. The love that God has given so freely to us should shine through our words and actions.
Is God’s name safe in your mouth? What words or phrases would you use to describe God to a child? What descriptors would you use about God to a friend? What about to someone who was struggling?