November 18, 2018 • Life for Leaders
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the middle of my freshman year of undergrad at Messiah College, and I was in hour five of what would be a nine-hour marathon of movie watching. The date was December 17, 2003, and the final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy had just dropped in theaters. I had purchased my ticket a few weeks prior and spent most of that day watching parts one and two. This was a commitment and investment of money, time, and energy to ensure that I was ready for the final installment. As you can imagine, I showed up to the movie theater early to ensure that I had chance to get the best seat possible. As the movie began to play, we were reunited with the characters that all fans had come to either know and love or know and judge. And, of course, one of the more memorable characters was Gollum.
Gollum was an unusual creature. Although he didn’t look it outwardly, he was a hobbit, who had lost his way—and apparently his image—in pursuit of a ring. From his first encounter with the ring, he had built a strong soul tie, an obsession, with this object. He affectionately called it “his precious.” While I admit that this phrase was creepy, a clear message was conveyed by Gollum to his audience—this ring was his sacred possession. Gollum had identified something in life that was worth the designation of sacred. This ring was in a class all by itself in his mind, and there was no price too high to pay or anything that could take its place. Gollum’s pursuit was materialistic, however, it was the perfect example of what reverence and honor looks like.
In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus encourages them to hold the name of God and their connection to him as sacred. As I’ve written before, you cannot benefit from what you refuse to honor. Jesus’s model prayer urges the believer to place God in the proper position of honor, as a pretext to any requests or petitions that may follow. We must revere and respect God as the ultimate authority in our lives and as our highest pursuit. This means that we approach God with our desires and intentions clear, but we also give him the respect and deference to answer or not answer our petitions as he sees fit.
If we were to further translate this complete first line of prayer, it would most likely sound like this:
“God, we approach you from a place of intimacy by acknowledging you as our Father. We also acknowledge that you reside in the place of preeminence—heaven. Before we ask anything of you, we come to you humbly, predetermined to respect your final decisions on all of our requests and petitions.”
What do you cherish in your life? Is it your marriage? Is it your family? Perhaps your job, business, friendships, an item you received from someone? Who do you revere or respect? What is considered sacred to you? Can you say that you honor God? Does he hold a special and separate space in your time, heart, and life? Do you respect his input as the ultimate priority over all other feelings and pursuits?
God, it is my intention to honor you and hold you as sacred. If there are areas in my life where that is not reflected, I ask you to forgive me. Teach me how to cherish you, honor you, and respect your voice in my life. Help me to make your voice the ultimate authority in my life. In Jesus’s name, Amen.