Names for God

How do you begin your prayers? Since I have been concentrating on prayer and getting closer to God, I thought I would share this article from CHRISTIANITY TODAY about naming God.

I was, in fact, talking to the hubby over the holidays about images of God the Father. I really never had a physical image of God in mind as I was growing up. The hubby, however, grew up as a Catholic and saw lots of pictures of God as a gray-haired sort of guy. Actually, once we started talking, I remembered seeing pictures such as the fourth one here , Michelangelo’s painting, The Creation of Man,” but somehow it didn’t dawn on me that the guy with the gray hair was supposed to be God. I thought maybe he was an angel.

Anyway…that lead back to this article and what you call God when you pray. I read somewhere recently that when one woman settled down for prayer, she just sat and listened, readying herself by saying, “I’m here, Abba.” I not there yet. My prayers mostly begin with Father. Since I call my own father Dad or Pater (which comes from his having taught Latin), you would think maybe that I could be less formal, but I’m not. And I don’t think the formality is because I want to keep a distance between myself and God. I have a mental, if not a physical image of Him when I pray. I know He’s there. A lot of my prayers don’t have any form of address at the beginning. They are more talking, like “Did you see that?” or “Thank you for letting that car miss me!”

Virginia Stern Owens, who wrote the CHRISTIANITY TODAY article, says that she most often begins her prayers with “Father” as well. And that’s OK. As Owens says, that’s the way Jesus began His prayers. She goes on to say that she “rarely opens up [her] heart with Jesus’ name. I wonder if she is thinking about hymns, though, because they are also, for me at least, a method of prayer. What about “Jesus Loves Me?” It’s a form of prayer/praise, isn’t it? Or “Beautiful Savior,” also known as “Fairest Lord Jesus,” which is one of my favorite hymns? And often, I have noticed, when my heart is really full, songs like”My Jesus, I Love Thee” come unbidden to my lips.

Does the name you use for God when you pray really matter? Owens ends her article this way:

Getting that initial address right seems important to me, not because I imagine I can really capture this source of all being in a verbal container. But the name I call to God with determines the guise in which I come to this task, duty, privilege of prayer. In naming God, I am in some way—far beyond my incomplete understanding—determining my own identity. Naming God ends up defining not him, but me.

I have never done a study of the names of God like I have heard of other people doing, so I really don’t know if the way I pray is the right way, if I am using the best name or not. I think the names might change, like names do when you get close to someone. “Pater” is an affectionate term for me when I address my earthly father. Maybe someday I will be on terms that close with my Heavenly Father.

In the meantime, I’ll keep praying. That’s the way to get closer to God, I think. And if Our Father wants me to call Him something else, I’m sure He’ll let me know.



2 Responses to “Names for God”

  1. 1 Maria January 4, 2007 at 4:03 am

    Reflecting on the names of GOD can be so insightful.
    Every blessing

  2. 2 Cltgrace January 4, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Hi – saw your comments on Write at Home. Just thought I’d stop by! This is a great post- Thanks for sharing!

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