What’s In a Name?

“Hallowed be thy name.”

For us, a name is just a name. It’s something we call someone. Some names are more meaningful to us because of the person behind those names.

In the Jewish culture names were far more than just something we call someone. Names reflected a person’s destiny, their character, the essence of their identity.

For us, we find certain names meaningful because of our experiences with those particular individuals. For the Jews the person became the persons that their names meant.

  • God changed the name of Abram, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of the multitudes” after Abraham fathers Isaac.
  • God changed the name of Jacob, meaning “heel catcher” or “trickster” to Israel, meaning “one who strives with God” after Jacob wrestled with God.
  • Jesus changed the name of Simon, meaning “one who hears” to Peter, meaning “rock.”

Names weren’t merely something we called someone but describes the character, the nature, the destiny of an individual. The individual became what the name meant.

When Moses asked God what name he should tell the Israelites was the name of the God sending him to rescue them from Egypt, God replied, “Say to this people of Israel, ‘I am’ has sent me to you. The name I am is YHWH or Yahweh. The name of God YHWH is linked to the concept of self-existence.

God’s name was thought to be so holy that Jews not utter it aloud for fear of profaning God’s name. Even today, many Jews will write “G-d” in order to show reverence to God’s name.

So what does all this mean to us?

Great question.

Jesus says in John 14:14, “If you ask for anything in my name I will do it.”

Also, we end every prayer with the phrase, “We pray this in the name of Jesus.”

When we say this, we are simply saying, “This request expresses not only my wishes, but Jesus’ will too.” It reflects Jesus’ will, his interest, his character, and his authority. When we pray in Jesus’ name we are not only asking for this for ourselves. We are asking on behalf of Jesus.

Knowing this changes what we pray for. Are our prayers reflective of God’s will? If not, we are not praying in Jesus’ name.

Everything changes when we pray in the name of Jesus.

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