Hallowed Be Your Name [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’” (Matthew 6:9)

If one of the first steps of prayer that we must work out is to whom we are praying, then one of the next steps is to understand who we are in prayer. When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He begins with attention on the Father, and then, within the first request of the prayer, asks that God’s name be hallowed in our midst.

We do not have many “hallowed” things in our world today, but there are a few still left, such as the hallowed halls of learning or hallowed places where we remember lost lives. We view such places or things as set apart from the ordinary.

This is how the Jewish people viewed God’s name. When reading the Hebrew Bible, the personal name of God, YHWH, could not be pronounced aloud, instead replaced by the Hebrew Adonai, which means ‘Lord.’ In His teaching about God’s name being hallowed, Jesus is telling His hearers about the holy uniqueness of the name of God. If the name represents the character of one’s being, then we discover that God’s character is set apart from the ordinary. God’s name is hallowed: unique, different, holy, or consecrated.

In light of this reality, Jesus’ teaching on prayer is a crash course in humility. The first request of the Lord’s Prayer takes us beyond sentimentalism or flippant spirituality and into the depths of God’s holiness and “other”-ness.  We quickly realize that we are not hallowed and neither have we dealt with God as a hallowed Being with a hallowed Name. We are confronted with the great distance between us and God at the very beginning of this prayer. As Helmut Thielicke writes:

Nobody can say ‘Father’ who does not at the same time say, ‘I come to thee from a far country and I am not worthy to be called thy son. Father, I have not hallowed thy name; I have betrayed it a hundred times.’[1]

If God is holy and powerful, yet still our Father, we approach prayer with the bended knee of humility, simultaneously reaching out for the grace found in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can traverse the impassable chasm between us and the transcendent God of the hallowed Name. Only Jesus can lead us from overpowering consciousness of our limitations into the brightness of God’s marvelous light. So we begin our prayer with the powerful request that God’s name be set aside as hallowed in us and in the world.

Our Father in heaven,
  hallowed be Your Name.
O Almighty God, I cry to You
in full awareness of my need before You.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
hide me in Your gracious sacrifice.
Even as forgiveness covers me,
lead me by Your grace
to worship You in spirit and truth –
in the splendor of Your holiness –
that Your Name might be hallowed
  in me and through me today.

[1] Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father: Sermon’s on the Lord’s Prayer (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 44.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Praying to the Holy God [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

In prayer we approach the God of the universe face to face. Although the word ‘awesome’ has been devalued to our contemporary ears, this reality of prayer is truly an awesome thing.

The prophet Isaiah found out how awesome this is when he had a vision of God while at prayer in the Temple in the year that King Uzziah died. The heavenly throne room was unveiled to Isaiah’s mortal eyes, and he was clearly overwhelmed at the sight of the Living God and the angelic beings around His throne. Isaiah’s response is both familiar and strange to us: “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty'” (Isaiah 6:5).

Most of us rarely think about God in this way, let alone approach Him with such an awareness of His awesome holiness. The American writer Annie Dillard comments on this reality with language so strong it may catch us off guard:

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.[1]

Of course, we should remember that as New Testament Christians we stand on this side of the Cross, the tearing of the veil, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus who lives now as our eternal Mediator before the Father. Even so, it is good for us to consider the awesome holiness of God. It is good to enter the place of prayer aware of the awesome Being whom we are approaching. It was this reality that caused the prophet Habakkuk to pause in the midst of the raging of the nations around Jerusalem to say: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Holy, holy, holy, are You,
  Lord God Almighty.
Although I do not approach You with a crash helmet,
  I am aware of how great You truly are.
And so, I humble myself before Your power,
  even as I worship You with all of who I am.
There is no one else like You,
  and there never will be.
I stand in awe of You
as the only, awesome God.

[1] Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1982), 58.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

God of the Displaced Ones. part 2

This past weekend, I concluded both Eastbrook’s Missions Fest as well as our series “God in Blank Spaces.” Building off of Jenny Yang‘s message on the global situation of displaced people the previous weekend, I continued the theme of God’s mission amongst the displaced people of the world.

My approach to this topic, however, was to engage more deeply with the theme verses chosen for the week from Leviticus 19:33-34:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

I sought to provide an overview of the book of Leviticus and its vital role in our own faith today as the New Testament people of God. In particular I focused on Leviticus’s theme of holiness, giving attention to four aspects of holiness that we must grasp clearly:

  1. God makes His people holy.
  2. God is making His people holy.
  3. Holiness is personal in nature.
  4. Holiness is relational in nature.

Here is the video and sermon outline of my message, “God of the Displaced Ones, part two.”

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.


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New Hope (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “New Hope,” which is the first part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 1:13-2:3.

  1. When was a time that something you were hoping for came true? How did hope sustain you in the waiting period?
  1. This weekend we continue our series, “Exiles,” on the New Testament letter known as 1 Peter. Take a moment to begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you and transform you through His truth. Then, whether you are alone or with others, read 1 Peter 1:13-2:3 aloud.
  1. Peter begins his letter with an extended prayer celebrating the hope that we have with God in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1-12). In this next section of the letter, he explains how we live fixed upon that hope. 1 Peter 1:13 begins with an imperative statement. What do you think Peter means when he writes: “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming”?
  1. In 1:14-15, Peter build upon the new identity given to believers in Jesus by their “new birth into a living hope” (1:3). What does Peter call the believers toward in these verses? Why does he say we should live that way?
  1. ‘Holiness’ or being ‘holy’ has fallen out of fashion these days. Why do you think that is? What might it look like for us to live meaningfully holy lives today in our everyday settings?
  1. Peter builds on the theme of holiness in 1:17-21. What is Peter’s main exhortation to the believers here? What does he say are the main reasons believers should do that?
  1. Moving from the focus on holiness and appropriate fear of the Lord, Peter begins to talk about the way we live with one another as Christians. How would you restate Peter’s main request of the believers in 1:22?
  1. In what ways do you think holy living and loving others relates to our hope in Jesus Christ? Why do you think these topics be related in Peter’s mind for ‘exiles’ (1:1) and ‘foreigners’ (1:17)?
  1. Drawing upon imagery found in Psalm 34:8, Peter encourages the believers in 2:1-3 to grow up with God by having the right sort of spiritual nourishment in their lives. Why do you think they must rid themselves of certain things (2:1) and also crave certain other things (2:2)? What do you think the ‘pure spiritual milk’ Peter is referring to means in our everyday lives?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you about your life through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.


New Hope

Exiles Series Gfx_Web HeaderThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series entitled “Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter,” looking at the hope we have as exiles. We journeyed into Peter’s words on that hope and how it transforms the way we live in 1 Peter 1:13-2:3.

You can watch the message here or subscribe to our audio podcast, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site.

If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.

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Set Apart

Chiseled ThumbThis weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series, “Chiseled,” on the Ten Commandments by looking at the third and fourth commandments from Exodus 20:7-11.

While we may not immediately see a connection between the command about not misusing God’s name and the command about keeping the Sabbath, they have a lot in common. They are both about keeping something as “set apart,” which is a reflection of God being “set apart,” or holy. So, the message was about having set apart words and set apart time.

The outline for the message is below. You can view the message online here or listen to it via our audio podcast here. Access all the messages from the series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This series is part three of an occasional series we are doing from Exodus. You can enjoy the first two parts of this extended series on Exodus here:

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Saturday Prayer 13

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘be holy, because I am holy.’ (1 Peter 1:14-16, NIV)

Lord, please help me to walk in the ways of holiness as a reflection of who You are. Conform my desires to Your truth, and dispel the mirage of ignorant desires. May my words come from a holy mind and heart. May my actions come from a holy mind and heart. ay my interior life be overcome and strengthened by Your holy presence.

Lord, in the times of faltering, call me back to the truth. Lead me through the pathways of confession and repentance that open into the roadway of obedience. Even as You purify me within, let my steps of obedience purify me outwardly that I might receive and reflect the light of Your holy presence.

[This is part of a series of prayer posts in 2012 that began here.]