I don’t know about you, but this pandemic is doing wonders for my prayer life. Never before have I been urged so powerfully to prayer. Never before have I had so much time to pray. I’ve prayed with friends on Facebook, I’ve prayed with my kids and family aloud and today was the first day I haven’t been at work during my church’s weekly prayer meeting and I was able to join their online live prayer. I have found myself less anxious and more inspired after these times of prayer. Prayer is powerful.
Yet I have felt the danger of my prayers becoming nothing more than a desperate litany of needs. Those are important prayers, but they are not the only prayers. The truth is, sometimes I don’t even know what to pray.
I’ve been reminded through community prayers of one way of praying that remains meaningful in every season of life: praying the names of God.
God’s names aren’t just labels, they speak important truths about who God is. They remind us of truth. They remind us of the greatness of our God. When the world is shifting sand, remembering God’s names sets us back on the Rock.
Jehovah Jireh: Our provider. (Genesis 22:14)
When Abraham obeyed God, willing to sacrifice his own son, God sent a ram in his place. Abraham called the place Jehovah Jireh. The LORD will provide.
In today’s economy, so many are in need and don’t know where or when their next pay check will come, how to manage the bills and how to survive in this new world. Jehovah Jireh, we look to you for our provision. Just like you provided for Abraham in his time of need, provide for us today.
Jehovah Raphe: the God who heals (Exodus 15:26)
As the Israelites faced a crisis of water in the middle of the desert, God speaks to them and gives them this name: I am the God who heals (Jehovah Raphe) and leads them to an oasis.
Jehovah Raphe, our world needs you. For those affected by the virus or who are vulnerable health-wise, heal our bodies. For those afflicted by anxiety, despair and depression, heal our minds. For those of us soul-sick, heal our souls. You are the Great Healer and we look expectantly to you to heal us.
Jehovah Shalom: the God of peace (Judges 6:24)
This name comes from the story of Gideon, a time when the Israelites were in hiding and isolation, living in caves and going out only in secret to gather provisions. Their enemies had become too big for them to face. God calls Gideon to the battle and Gideon worships Jehovah Shalom – God is peace.
As we face an enemy we can’t see we look to you: Jehovah Shalom, you are our peace.
Jehovah Rohi: the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
David, the shepherd, wrote his famous psalm: The LORD is my shepherd. He is the one we look to for care, leadership, protection and guidance.
We need your gentle leadership. Guide us, Good Shepherd.
El Roi: the God who sees me (Genesis 16:13)
This is one of my favourite names for God, given by Hagar when she fled Abraham’s camp. Alone, and left to die without water in the wilderness, God shows up and speaks to her. Overwhelmed, she realizes that when she was the most alone, God saw her.
For every person feeling alone and isolated, El Roi, you see. They are not forgotten. They are not alone. You see them. Remind them of this truth today.
Immanuel: God with us (Matthew 1:23)
God is not a distant being, watching from afar. He is Immanuel, God with us.
Immanuel, You are not a far-off God. You are here, in our homes, in our lives. You walk with us. Thank you for your presence.
The Life (John 14:6)
As Jesus walked towards his own death on the cross, he taught his disciples that he is the Life.
As death and sickness surround us, we turn to You – the True Life.
El Olam: Everlasting God (Isaiah 26:4)
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)
You are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. While our world is changing rapidly, you never change. I put my hope in you.
Abba: Daddy (Romans 8:15)
In a world where God was seen as All-Powerful, Distant and Unapproachable, Jesus called him “Father” and “Daddy.” He invites us to an intimate, father/child relationship.
Like a good father, you invite me to find comfort in you. You embrace me in a world where touch is avoided. You listen to me in a world where voices are being drowned out. You are present in a world of absence. You are my Abba, and like a beloved child I rest in your care.
El Deah: God of knowledge (1 Sam 2:3)
We lack knowledge – of how to live well in a pandemic. Of how to protect ourselves and others. How to cure this disease and how to survive economically. We need your wisdom! You are the God of knowledge and nothing is unknown to you. We look to you.
Yahweh Shammah: The Lord is there (Psalm 139:7)
You are here. I cannot escape your presence. You are with me even now.
Praying the names of God
Wherever you are right now in your faith or your fear, God invites us to his throne room. Praying the names of God, whether just to remind yourself of what is true or because you don’t know what to pray is a powerful way to stand firm in your faith.
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