From Praying the Names of God Week Sixteen, Day Two
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)
PRAYING THE NAME
The Lord said to him [Solomon]:"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." (1 Kings 9:3)
Reflect On: 1 Kings 8:1-11, 22-66; 9:1-3
Praise God: For his holy and powerful name.
Offer Thanks: Because God has promised to hear your prayers.
Confess: Any tendency to forget that you are a "temple of the living God."
Ask God: To increase your reverence for God's holy name.
My daughters were both born in China. When I adopted them as infants, I had the option of changing their names, which I did. For good measure I chose a Chinese middle name for each. But why change their names at all? For one thing, the girls had been named by orphanage personnel, not by their birth parents. In fact, all the children in their respective orphanages had exactly the same surname. So it hardly seemed like a distinctive, even though one of my children was named after the mayor of her city. I wanted their names to link them to our family and our future together, not to an institution.
In most societies parents have the right to name their children, even if this right seems at times to be abused. Believe it or not there are children in our world named "Gouda," "Veal," "Bologna," "Vanity," "Unique," "ESPN," "Gator," "Adonis," "Denim," and even "Dung." The list of strange names maintained by the Social Security Administration appears to be growing longer and stranger each year. Regardless of what we name our kids, naming is our prerogative as parents. By naming our children we are extending our authority over them, claiming them as our own, pledging our care and protection, and promising our lifelong commitment and love. And that's what God did with his people. First, he revealed his name to his chosen people and then he associated his name and his presence with the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem. By doing so, he promised to dwell with his people, hearing and answering their prayers as long as they remained faithful to him. Though the temple in Jerusalem is no longer standing, Paul reminds us that "we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people'" (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Since the first century, those who follow Jesus have been known as "Christians," named after the Christ they profess. To all who remain faithful to him, Jesus has said: "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God" (Revelation 3:12).
Today take time to picture yourself in God's holy presence, with the name of his Son imprinted on your soul. Ask him for whatever you need, especially for the grace to realize that his eyes are always on you and his heart is always for you.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.