From Praying the Names of God Week Sixteen, Day One
Shem is the Hebrew word for "name" (the "Ha" before it is the definite article). The Bible speaks of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem as the place where God's name would dwell—the place where his people could pray and be heard. Jesus himself prayed that the Father would glorify his name through him. He also promised to do whatever we ask in his name. Philippians 2:9-10 affirms that God has exalted Jesus and given him "the name that is above every name."
Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, "My Name shall be there," so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. (1 Kings 8:28-29)
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said...
"Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive...
"When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance...
"As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name..."
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do... the LORD said to him:
"I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there."
(From 1 Kings 8, 1 Kings 9)
Lord, teach me what it means to "hallow your name," to glorify, exalt, declare, and praise your holy name, to live in a way that honors your name so that others might find forgiveness, peace, and healing through the power of your name. Amen.
Understanding the Name
God's name is associated with his glory, power, holiness, protection, trust, and love. To call on his name is to call on his presence. To act in his name is to act with his authority. To fight in his name is to fight with his power. To pray to his name is to pray to him. In fact, the very first mention of prayer in the Bible appears in Genesis 4:26: "At that time people began to invoke the name of the LORD" (NRSV). Though we are to exalt God's name and proclaim it to the nations, it is also possible to dishonor it, which is the same as dishonoring him. God's name is his reputation.
Though God's name is holy and powerful, it cannot be invoked as a magic formula. Rather, his name becomes powerful whenever it is uttered by men and women who are exercising their faith in God. Jesus taught his own disciples to pray by saying, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." In John's gospel, Jesus prays to his Father, saying, "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me" and "I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known" (John 17:6-26 KJV).
When we pray to Hashem (ha-SHAME), we are praying to the holy God who dwells in our midst, hearing and answering our prayers.
Studying the Name
1. What does it mean to confess God's name? What is the connection between repentance and answered prayer? (see 1 Kings 8:35-36)
2. Why do you think Solomon prayed that God would hear the prayers of foreigners when they prayed toward the temple? (see 1 Kings 8:41-43)
3. How can Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem inform your prayers today?
4. What does God mean when he says he will put his "Name" in the temple?
5. How have you experienced God's response to your own prayers?
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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.