Jesus said, “When you pray, pray after this manner: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”’ (Matthew 6:9).
‘Hallowed’ could also mean ‘sanctified, set apart, exalted, distinguished’. The name of the Lord is hallowed. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run in, and they are safe (Proverbs 18:10). His name is an exalted name; it is an honourable name. We must fight very strongly against the trivialization of the name of the Lord. We must fight it all the time. You must constantly remind yourself of it whenever you have the opportunity, to bless the name of God or to do anything that involves honouring Him. All of us must fight. You must fight that temptation to praise and worship God in an off-hand manner.
A personal example – for years, I find that by closing my eyes during worship sessions, I do not get to look at people, and so I can focus on God. I did this for years even when I was not pastoring. But now, since I have to teach people and lead them in worship, once in a while my eyes will be open as I move around, so I don’t bump into seats. In doing so, I have the misfortune of sometimes seeing people standing and while they are singing, they’re also looking around in a distracted manner. They do not have a clue.
But if I begin to pray with that same name, saying, “Let us begin to come under the covering of the name of Jesus. It is a strong tower…,” those same distracted people will begin to do gymnastics because they are praying. They will take that [the prayers] more seriously. But while we were honouring the name of God, they were casual about it.
For some of us, it is almost like a very firm stronghold; you do not know how to honour God. You only honour God when you are moved or when it is emotional. You walk by emotions.
Emotions are not the primary way to access God, so forget about wanting to feel a certain way before you worship God. Don’t only ‘get in the flow’ [become focused in a worship session] when the song being sung is one that you are excited about. That is not what the Lord responds to; the Lord responds to honour. If you only focus when you are singing a song that you like, it is like saying that you greet a sister very courteously because you think, “This is a sister who I really like since she always gives me things.” No, you do not do that. The fact that you say, “Good evening Aunty, welcome,” when you see your aunty, is not a function of how you feel about her. If she is your aunty and deserves honour, you are meant to greet her and say, “Welcome, Aunty.” You are not meant to groan or grumble as you say it. You are meant to be amiable in your welcome.
Now, if that is just for relating with a plain human being, how much more the Lord? Whenever you are blessing God, whether in private by yourself, or in a small group or in a church group like God’s Lighthouse, you must not wait until you are excited [your worship cannot be only based on your excitement level]. This emotion-led Christianity is the reason for most of our fumbles and stumbles; because Christians rely on emotions too much.
Now, this is not to say that we should not have emotions. We should, because emotions are from God. But we cannot worship God with emotions primarily.
When you say, “Hallowed be your name,” you have to think: “What am I saying and who am I saying it to?” When you have the answer, then say it properly. If you have that attitude, it will affect the time you arrive at a church meeting. You won’t come late with the attitude that says, “Well, whenever I get there, whatever I meet is what I’ll catch.” It will affect you because when you are honouring God, you won’t keep your eyes open and look around. You won’t be thinking of other things. Your mind will not run around from left to right — your mind will be focused. You will close your eyes.
I still close my eyes often, despite all the experience I have, and you should learn to do that too. Don’t stand distracted by everything, keeping your eyes open. You are trying to praise God and yet you leave your eyes open and look at everything that passes. How does that work? Do you plan to focus only when you’re seeing a vision? This is why the only way many Christians can engage with God is when He grabs, bends or hits them with something [when God does something ‘forceful’ to them]. It does not have You can be consistently attentive to what is going on [even if you are not to be so. For many, they only believe that they are spiritual when they see a vision that makes them scream. seeing a vision]. God did not call you to have visions. No, He called you to hear His words. It is not okay to be taught this and still keep making the same error when you have the next opportunity to worship God. You must keep reminding yourself. You must snap out of distractions. Whenever you get into that [distraction] ‘zone’, you have to remember, and remind yourself: “I’m not worshipping again. I am standing quietly and thinking, ‘When will we get around to the main thing?’ [I am distracted, I have to bring my mind back and focus].”
The questions to ask are these: “What is the main thing [in a church meeting or service]? When does God move? What makes Him respond? What does He respond to the most?”
I can assure you that what God responds to the most is obedience driven by love, which means that such obedience, of course, is driven by His Word. “If you love Me,” He said, “You will obey My words.” (John 14:15, 21-24).
So the Lord says, “When you come [to pray], say, ‘Hallowed be Your name.’” The proper thing for you to do when you come before Him is to focus on hallowing Him. The things that move God are not large sums of money. No. Respect and honour Him. If He says, “When I come into this room, stand up,” then, stand up when He comes into the room.
I do not understand it when people chew gum while worshipping the Lord. Do you plan to sleep while worshipping? Why should there be gum in your mouth?
Therefore, you are struggling between chewing gum and worshipping. So you go, “Hallowed…,” chomp chomp. “Hallowed…,” chomp chomp! “…Be Your name”, chomp. Your singing is interspersed with all this activity because you are being ‘familiar’ with God. Let us get rid of our small bad habits. God takes you just the way you take Him. When you take Him seriously, He says, “Yeah, you are taking Me seriously,” so He takes you seriously too. Let us strive to take Him seriously all the time. That is the point that I am making; especially when we are honouring, praising and worshipping Him.
Pastor Ita Udoh
23rd January, 2020.
© God’s Lighthouse 2020