When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, the first thing he told them was, “Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name…” I think many of us have lost sight of the fact that when we pray we are praying to a holy God. While it is most definitely true that God is our Father, that we have his very Spirit in us that enables us to cry out “Abba Father,” and that we are tenderly loved by God himself, we must remember that he is God and his name is holy.
While I understand the motivation of many when they tell others to just talk with God like you would anyone else, we must keep in mind that while we don’t have to pray to God using King James English, he is not just anyone else. He is altogether holy and separate from anything that we can even imagine. He’s not just another buddy that we call up and say, “Hey, yo God…” When we pray, we are addressing the almighty living God, creator of heaven and earth. He is holy and his name is to be reverenced.
Among Christians today, it seems that the casual manner in which they approach God is worn like some sort of badge of spirituality. We are told in the Bible that even the angels cover their faces before our holy God. Think of the times in the Bible when you read about people having a real up close encounter with the Lord; it scared the daylights out of them! John, the beloved Apostle who walked with Jesus, ate with him and leaned against his breast, says in the book of Revelation that when he turned around and saw the One speaking to him he fell down like a dead man. When Isaiah had his vision of God he said, “Woe is me!” It seems like today it has almost become unpopular to speak of God’s holiness. People immediately shout, “Legalist, Pharisee!” We want a God we can control, a snugly teddy bear, Santa Clause God that we can manipulate and who is subject to our every whim. Why have we become offended when we are reminded that we pray to a God that says, “I am the Lord God and there is no other!”
The understanding of God’s holiness should produce confidence when we pray. The God we pray to, the “Our Father” is the One before whom the hosts of heaven bow down and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come…You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” This holy God before whom mountains tremble and the earth quakes is the One that loves you!
The fact that our Abba is holy means that he is separate and different from all else, there is nothing nor no one like him. I think we see this so clearly in the cross. This God who is holy, righteous, and beyond comparison revealed his heart in the offering of Jesus. Someone has said, “What God’s holiness has demanded, his grace has provided in Jesus.” Can we not pray in humble reverence to such a God as this?
To be continued…