The Power of Praying in God's Name
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-3
Often the definitive article "the" is used before God's names, and, rightly so. For example, God is:
The eternal God
The glorious LORD
The Great, the Mighty God
The Holy One of God
To distinguish God from other gods writers will do just what I did in this sentence. They will capitalize the "G" for God we know as "The Holy One" and use the lower case "g" to refer to all other gods. Our God is not one among many. He is the God, not a god. He is not first and the other gods come second, third, fourth, and so on. He is it. He is not a territorial God, but a universal one. There is no other.
Consequently, as God states in the first of the Ten Commandments, "I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me" (Ex. 20:2-3 HCSB), and as his name indicates with the personal pronoun "your", God has a place of prominence.
Why is God the definitive (ultimate, perfect, best, authoritative) God?
One, God is definitive because of his person.
The phrase, "I am Yahweh your God" (Ex. 20:2a NIV), speaks of God's person. We see three names of God in this phrase.
"I am" speaks of his essential being as first mentioned in Exodus 3:14.
Yahweh is the name most closely linked to God's redeeming acts in the history of his chosen people. We know God because of what he had done. This God had just saved his people from the tyranny of slavery in Egypt.
"God" is Elohim, the plural form of the simpler name El. It is the name most frequently used for God in the Old Testament. The name El, probably means "first" as in "Lord," and indicates that God is the strong and mighty one.
But notice the other word in this phrase. It is the word "your," indicating that God who is essential to all of life, the redeemer, the first among all wants to be known in a personal way. He wants to be involved and a part of your life. He wants to give of himself to you. It is as if God is shouting at us: "Know me! Acknowledge me! Remember me! I am the Lord your God!"
The truth is everybody has a god. A god could be defined as anything that will have first place in your life. Martin Luther remarked, "Whatever thy heart clings to and relies upon, that is properly thy God." Security, position, power, social prestige, profession, job - it is not uncommon for any of these to replace God. The question you must ask of yourself is, will your god satisfy the needs and yearning of your heart. Bowing down before any god but the true and living God of Scripture is like hugging a mannequin. It can't respond. It can't produce. It can't offer anything to anyone. Why? Because it is impersonal, a non-being. On the other hand, the living and true God wants to respond to your needs and your cries for help. He wants to help because that is his nature.
Two, God is definitive because of his power.
God reminded the people of Israel of his power by saying that I am the one "... who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery" (v. 2b). The Ten Commandments were given to the children of Israel three months after their Exodus from Egypt. During the preceding three months, God reminded them of what he had done.
Many people today would have us think that while God is not dead, God is growing old and getting tired. The fact remains that God is not even out of breath. God abounds in power today as in the days of the Exodus.
Three, God is definitive because that is his place.
The first of the Ten Commandments says it succinctly, "Do not have other gods besides me" (v. 3). God not only deserves and desires the definitive role; he demands it. God will not play second fiddle to anyone. He will have no rivals. He will not share his place with anyone or anything. The words before me literally could be translated as "against my face," meaning "in preference to me." It expresses God's insistence that he is to be the only God of Israel.
This first command is affirmed in a remarkable sentence, which for the Jew is the heart of the Torah: "Listen, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is One (Dt. 6:4). The Jews called this The Shema. It is the statement most often on their mouths in worship. To that statement of faith and practice is added, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength" (Deut. 6:5 NIV).
The central thrust of this commandment can be summed up in one word: priority. God is priority, not one among many. As the saying goes, "God is president, not just resident in your life." The rest of the commandments mean little or nothing unless God is recognized as the definitive one.
God is our definitive God. A throne room exists in your heart with only one throne. God's place is on the throne for we will have no other gods before him.