How do you like to address God in prayer? Do you have a favorite name for talking to God or about Him? How we address God is critical, as it shapes our thoughts and feelings about Him. The ancient Hebrews had various ways of addressing God, representing different ways they thought about Him. They addressed God as Elohim, signifying His power and sovereignty over all creation. They addressed God as El Elyon, reverencing Him as “God Most High”, and also El Shaddai, in wonder of Him as “Mighty God”.
But it was in awe that ancient Hebrew scribes wiped their pens clean and washed their bodies before they dared to write the holy covenant name of God, Yahweh. Not daring to utter His name they would speak of Yahweh as “The Ineffable Name”, or “The Unutterable Name”, too holy to ever be spoken. Some rabbis taught that anyone who dared to pronounce Yahweh had no place in the World to Come, and should be put to death. Over time, Hebrews would speak of God as Ha Shem, “The Name”, wanting to preserve the holiness of the sacred name. Today, observant Jews avoid writing “God” by substituting symbols, like writing “G-d” instead of “God”.
Surrounded by people who were so scrupulously careful about how they addressed or spoke of God, Jesus instructs the first words of prayer to be “Our Father”. Yes, we call God “Father”! Jesus bestows on us the astonishing honor of talking to His Father just like Jesus talks to Him: “Our Father”. We get to talk to God as His beloved children because God promised: “But to all who received Jesus, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
It is because of Jesus, and only because of Jesus, that we are made His brothers and sisters. Jesus shares with us His Father as our Father, having been made God’s children through adoption (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5). We are by grace what Jesus is by nature, and loved by our Father no less than He loves Jesus. Jesus is now our “Elder Brother” (Romans 8:29), so that in prayer we stand side-by-side with Him in praying “Our Father”. There is no hesitancy here, no holding back as we begin our prayer, “Our Father”.
PRAY THE LORD’S PRAYER (Morning-Noon-Night)