Throughout the centuries no names have endured more abuse than those belonging to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Whether used in an epithet or curse, in casual or formal conversation, in secular or theological discussions, Their names are more often treated with disrespect than with respect or exaltation. Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers this insightful perspective on how we use God’s name:
What unworthy ideas and notions this world has of God! If you test your ideas of God by the teaching of the Scriptures you will see at a glance what I mean. We lack even a due sense of the greatness and the might and the majesty of God. Listen to men arguing about God, and notice how glibly they use the term … It is indeed almost alarming to observe the way in which we all tend to use the name of God. We obviously do not realize that we are talking about the ever blessed, eternal, and absolute, almighty God. There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off our feet whenever we use the name (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2 vols. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 2:60–61).
While we may cringe and actually voice displeasure when we hear someone taking God’s name in vain, we would do well to examine our own heart attitude. Indifference and lack of respect due His name from those who love Him may be just as heinous a sin.
Unfortunately it is this latter problem that often plagues Christianity. When believers have a low view of God, everything focuses on meeting felt needs within the body of Christ. When the church adopts such a perspective, it often offers people nothing more than spiritual placebos. It centers on psychology, self-esteem, entertainment, and a myriad of other diversions to attempt to meet perceived and felt needs.
It is essential, however, that the church and each individual believer in it understand they exist to bring glory to God. When you know and glorify God, the needs of your life will be met: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). But many believers don’t revere God—their very actions prove their irreverence. Instead of trembling at God’s Word, they twist His truths or supplant them with worldly philosophies.
Christians actually need to be confronted by their real need—an understanding of God’s holiness and their own sinfulness—so they can be usable to Him for His glory. When we have a right relationship to God, every aspect of our lives will settle into its divinely ordained place. That does not mean we are to ignore people’s problems—we are to be just as concerned about them as God is. But there must be a balance, and it begins with a high view of God. We must take God seriously and respect Him completely.
With that in mind, you can understand why prayer is ever and always, first and foremost, a recognition of God’s majestic glory and our submission to it. All our petitions, all our needs, and all our problems are subject to Him. God is to have priority in every aspect of our lives, and certainly in our times of deepest communion with Him. Prayer is not to be a casual routine that gives passing homage to God; it is to be a profound experience that should open up great dimensions of reverence, awe, appreciation, honor, and adoration.
John F. MacArthur