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How to Use the Name of God with Reverence

Most probably you have seen a scene like this. A Christian minister stands before a sick person and says in a loud voice, “In the name of Jesus, rise up” or words similar to these, but always with “In the name of Jesus.” The sentence is repeated again and again. But the sick person who cannot stand does not rise up.

Most probably also you have read this passage in the Acts of the Apostles 3:6-8 where it is recorded that Peter said to the sick man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” And the sick man rose up and walked.

The Difference

The difference is obvious. In the first case cited above, the sick man does not rise up and walk. In the preceding case, the sick man rose up and walked.

Both the minister and Peter used the name of Jesus. But the effect was different in each case. So we ask: How was the name of Jesus used in each instance? Why is it that in one instance it produced a cure and in the other instance it did not?

The answer is not that in the first instance the minister lacked faith, while Peter had faith. Both presumably had faith. The answer is that in the first instance the minister did not know how to use the name of Jesus, for if he knew the sick man would have stood up, while in the account of the Acts of the Apostles Peter knew how to use the name of Jesus.

Peter used that name with reverence. He knew the power that was in that name. The minister may have known the power of that name from his study but he did not experience it, because he did not know how to use the name of Jesus with reverence.

So the question now is: How do we use the name of God with reverence so that what we expect to be done by that name is indeed really done?

The Steps

First, recognize that the name of God is the written or spoken expression of God himself. In a sense this name is God himself. It is not a mere combination of letters of the alphabet or sounds.

The Jews are so respectful of the name of God YHWH that they never pronounce it as such. Instead they pronounce it adonai, meaning Lord.

Among Christians I have not found a man who gave such great respect to the name of God than Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone who would cut the word “God” and “Jesus” from papers lying around lest these words be desecrated.

The proof that the name is the being itself that has that name is in our ordinary use of a person’s name. When your name is called, your whole being—body, soul and spirit—responds. This is because you are that name. Your name is the spoken or written expression of you. It signifies you.

Unfortunately we do not apply this to the name of God. Most of us think that it is only a name, a sound, a combination of letters. We have succumbed without our knowing it to a brand of nominalism which says that names, because they are universals, do not really exist. They are only signs to refer to concepts or ideas. Thus the word “God” has become an idea only.

If we recognize that the person is in the name, we become careful with the use of his name. If we recognize that God is in his name, whether this name be generic like “God” or specific like “Jesus”, “Abba”, “Paraclete”, etc., then we will also be careful and reverent with the use of that name.

Because this is so, that the name of God signifies God himself, is God himself as expressed in letters or sound, it contains all the power that is in God himself. Before this power we stand in awe.

Second, realize that God is greater than anything you can think of or imagine and nearer to you that anything you can feel. He is indeed greater than all this universe and all the other universes you can imagine or think of. And he is nearer to you than yourself. He knows your inmost thoughts and feelings, even the very forces working in the deepest level of your subconscious.

This realization will drive you to stand or kneel in awe before God and bow with deep respect to the one who inhabits your deepest center.

Thirdly, acknowledge your complete and constant dependence on God. Most people have a false sense of independence. They think that they are mature enough to do things on their own, that they can think, speak and do what they want. They forget what Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing.”

Fourthly, express the formula you use with God’s name in a different way so that you become extra conscious and extra cautious of what you are saying or writing.

If you are a Catholic, instead of just saying “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” when you are making the sign of the Cross, say something like “By the power of God the origin, God the Word, and of God the Spirit”. Later vary the expression but always with the same meaning.

In you are a non-Catholic and you are accustomed to ending your prayer with “In the name of Jesus” you can vary this by saying something like “For the sake of Jesus” or “By the request of Jesus”.

If you do these steps habitually every time you hear the word God mentioned or see it written before you, these steps will become a part of your consciousness and using the name of God with deep, prayerful reverence will become second nature to you.

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