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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Back in '73 a Roman Catholic nun from Australia named Sister Janet Mead recorded a surprise music hit (youtube link) with a rocked up version of the Lord's prayer, written to be the b-side of a Donovan cover. The tune made #4 in the top Billboard 100 that year, and though it is now 35+ years old, the tune still rattles around in my head from time to time.

But this post isn't about my sentimental reminiscings, nor about this nun, nor about her musical rendition of the Lord's prayer.

It is about Jesus, and a deeper look into His character on this Lord's day.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He began His instruction with a sample prayer, "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name."

In recent posts I have discussed the humanity of Christ, if you haven't read those posts, this post may not have enough context for you to grasp what I am about to say fully, but I will proceed anyway. For the sake of this post, then, forget that Jesus was God - forget it altogether if you can, and pretend, if you will, that Jesus was just a man who was different from other men in that He was not cursed by Adam's curse. By that I mean, that you and I cannot perceive God except through revelation, either in creation itself, or through the word. Jesus however, like Adam prior to the fall, was able to perceive God experientially and naturally. Where God hides his face from us, His face was not hidden from Christ.

Thinking of Jesus as "just" a man might seem blasphemous to some, so I want to be clear, this is just an exercise to help us appreciate at a deeper level, the instruction Christ gave to His disciples. If we are wooden in our thinking and say to ourselves as many do, "this is God telling us how to pray" - we will only understand the Lord's prayer as an outline for prayer. We will look at the order and say, "this is the right and proper order", we will look at the content and say, "this is what we should be praying for" and we will do these things because, "God set them out this way in the Lord's prayer" and we will regard this as just another divine ordinance.

Now, it is a divine ordinance, don't get me wrong, but the problem with us is that while we recognize this prayer as instructional and all that - yet we tend to think of it in terms of a shopping list. Do this in this order if you want to pray right. We seldom consider the personality of Christ, and as such, we miss an opportunity to "know" our Lord, and miss an opportunity to "know" the glory of God through the majesty of our Lord's prayer.

I am not talking about poetry, or how nice the Lord's prayer sounds when we sing/pray it. I am talking about our Lord's affections - when the opening petition of our Lord's prayer is that God's name be Hallowed, do we stop and consider that this was the prayer of a Person (note the capital "P") whose incarnate human experience was intimately familiar with the presence of God the Father? I don't know about you, but when I think about Jesus praying this prayer, I don't think He is purposely (artificially) ordering things in His prayer so that the most important items in show up first in order. That is, I don't think Jesus is being a clinical Teacher here; I don't think He is standing aloof from His own affections here, and reciting a well thought out recipe - rather I think that His heart is speaking from the well of it's desire, and it's greatest desire is that the God whom Christ as a man knew, desired above every other desire, to see the name of that God hallowed.

A lot of us make so much of Christ's divinity, that we forget He lived as a man - and as a man He worshipped God the Father. We could make that clinical too - we could say, "Well, yeah, I mean, He had to worship God the Father because if He failed to do so, it would have been sin, so on the one hand He 'had' to, but being God, He didn't have to worship Himself, because He was God..." But that kind of "over-godifying" isn't very productive. Jesus was 100% God, but He was also 100% man during the incarnation. We take nothing away from His divinity when we (rightly) recall the reality of His humanity.

Jesus worshipped God the Father while He walked about on earth, but it was real, heart felt worship. He loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. There was no hesitation in Him. When our Lord prayed that God's name be Hallowed, we are not simply seeing the first bullet point in Christ's cold and aloof "how to pray" manual. What we are seeing is Christ's affection.

I don't know if I can really make this visible enough. Jesus prayed "Hallowed by Thy Name", not as a formula, but as the natural first affection of a right heart. Do you see how Jesus loved the Father?

I believe you do.

But that isn't where we stop this train. What I want you to ask yourself, and what the point of this post is all about - is if Jesus loved the Father that way, Jesus who perceived God freely, even as Adam had done in the Garden before the fall - Jesus who knew God, not simply and woodenly because "He was God Himself," but through the incarnation and in the grip and scope of His own humanity knew God - and through that knowledge truly desired that God's name be Hallowed - it says something profound about God the Father doesn't it??

I mean, Jesus' love for God the Father isn't pouring out solely from His own divinity - since, though Christ was God, He did not exercise His divinity on earth, thus this affection, this profound desire to see God's name hallowed is not coming from the chalkboard of His divinity, but from the desires of a heart that, like Adam before the fall - knew in His flesh, the personality of God the Father.

Do you ever wonder what you're missing out on, not being able to perceive God as Christ and Adam did? I mean, think of the magnificent splendour of God, the transcendent glory, the beauty of His perfection - all these were known to Christ in the flesh, so that when our Lord prayed, "Hallowed by Thy name" - the greatest instruction was not simply and only, "do as I am about to do" but more deeply: see Whom and how I love, and learn from my affections.

I am not trying to undo any of the teachings you may have heard about the Lord's prayer. Surely it is good to study this prayer, and to glean from it a right hierarchy of affections, etc. But what I want you to glean today is only the fact that our Lord Jesus worshipped and loved the Father - someone whom He, in His own flesh, knew - it was not a love that sprang out of duty, but rather a love that sprang out of being able to see God as He is.

Strive then, to trust that God is truly worthy of honour, praise and glory. Trust that when our Lord held God's name in His highest affection, that it was because He knew God, and knowing God He desired first that God's name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven.


posted by Daniel @ 5:30 AM  
  • At 8:43 AM, December 06, 2009, Blogger donsands said…

    Nice lesson.

    Jesus surely did love His Father, as the Son of Man. I do need to meditate upon that more often.

    If I could put my heart out on the table, and lay it right next to Jesus' heart, it would be of no significance whatsoever. But with His heart wrapped about mine, then I have the greatest significance and worth the universe has to offer.

    It's me in Christ, crucified with Christ, that allows me to love God.

    It's difficult to separate the Father and Jesus when i pray and love God though. I mainly think of Jesus when my heart fills with joy and love for what He did for me. I do thank the Father as well, but my affections are not as focused.

    have a good Lord's Day. May your sermon today be anointed. Amen.

  • At 8:54 AM, December 06, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Thank you Don,

    Today, Lord willing, I am teaching that even when we fail, if we are relying on God (or attempting to) it is superior than any seeming success we might get by relying in our flesh.

    I'll probably have to step on some toes along the way.

    Grace to you on this Lord's day! I wonder how many of us even think about Sunday as being Christ's day?

  • At 9:51 AM, December 08, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What are your thoughts on repeating the prayer every week in worship service as a congregation?

  • At 10:51 AM, December 08, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon - when I was in school we recited the Lord's prayer every morning; I wasn't saved, but I was a catholic, and I was even zealous for my catholcism. I had heard that the protestants added, "for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever" to the end of the prayer, and so when we came to the place where we had to recite that bit, I piously abstained.

    There is nothing - absolutely nothing - spiritual about reciting the Lord's prayer, in fact, scripture speaks very pointedly says in Matthew 6:7, And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.

    These are the words of Christ, and they mean, do not simply repeat the same prayer over and over again.

    The reason for this admonition is self evident: mindless repetition doesn't mean anything to the one who engages in it.

    That isn't to say that you cannot pray according to the pattern Christ gave, but it was never Christ's intention that prayer become mindless, route recitation. He was not saying, "pray this prayer" but rather "pray in this manner".

    So I think that while (in theory) there might be a person or (since we are playing "what if") maybe two in the congregation who are able to personalize the Lord's prayer every Sunday so as to not just be repeating the thing mindlessly as some empty liturgical ritual, by and large the recitation will just be spiritually vacant, religious, filler.

  • At 1:03 PM, December 08, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree, my congregation says it every week and more and more I get this eerie feeling that this doesn't make sense.

    Each week the Pastor prays and always closes by saying and now we pray the prayer you taught us and the whole church recites the prayer. Not growing up in the church I thought that was just what you do, but reading the Bible I could not find one reason why you would recite it at all let alone every week.

  • At 1:23 PM, December 08, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anon - you may want to talk about it with your pastor. Find out why he is doing it, and hear what he has to say about your concerns. In the end you will have a better understanding why that is happening, one way, or the other.

    Trust the Lord will be in it too, whatever the outcome.

  • At 9:20 PM, December 09, 2009, Blogger donsands said…

    Reciting the Lord's prayer is a way to declare the Holy Word of God; not so much pray a prayer.

    Now there are prayers written that we can pray, as in "The Valley of Vision".

    I suppose the main thing for me is to pray from my heart, as much as I possibly can, whether it's a spontaneous prayer, or if I read one of these prayers, or even a prayer from 'The Common Book of Prayer'.

    If a pastor leads the congregation in the Lord's prayer, then he needs to say something about what he is doing it for, and perhaps comment on a verse or two, and even explain that it's not a prayer, but a model.

    I like it when a pastor is so full of wisdom and the Spirit that he explains tons of things during the service.

    Even after singing a hymn, to have a pastor talk about the writer perhaps, or a verse that impressed him.

    I have such a church, and I feel like I am edified when there's more to church than just doing the same thing over, and yet, liturgical churches can be a blessing to the Lord. i believe that. But, I'm still learning.

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