NAME (Our Father, Word by Word)

April 4, 2011 | 9 comments

Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy

by Karen Edmisten

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. ~Acts 4:12

When I ponder the idea that God has a name, I am struck by what an intimate, personal, powerful thing that is. My husband has a name, my children, my friends, my family — the people with whom I have a relationship. When we give names to inanimate objects, it’s said that we’re personalizing them. Names allow relationships.

Our Father has a Name. He’s not an “it” — not an object, an impersonal force or a distant mechanic. He is a Person. With a name. When I first inched toward Christianity, after years of atheism, I thought a lot about that idea. I was stunned to think that we share this characteristic with Him.

A name. It’s what we whisper to our beloved. It is what we bestow on our babies after much careful consideration. Names call to mind friends, sisters, fathers, heroes. Names identify us, shape us, and connect us.

In Scripture, a name often defines a mission, and a name change indicates a vital change in one’s role and purpose. Thus Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah and Jacob is transformed into Israel. Simon becomes the rock and Saul is shattered, resurrected as Paul. One name defines the mission from the start: Jesus means, and is, our Savior.

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~Philippians 2:9-11

Names have meaning. I become my name, it becomes me. My name is who I am but that began with the origin of all things, with God — He has a Name, at once precious and holy. I, in a certain sense, am my name. I am Karen. But He — He is simply I AM. He exists in a way that I cannot and do not. But at the same time, He wants me to have a share in that existence, to be part of what He is. To be called by name.

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” ~Isaiah 43:1

We are made in God’s image and likeness in other ways — He’s given us both a will and an intellect, after all, just as He possesses — and so why not in this way? Why not, the Divine Mind must have mused, give my creatures the intimacy of names?

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. ~Proverbs 18:10

I can barely fathom Who and What God is, but when I call on His Name, when He calls mine, I have a glimpse of what He intends for me and for all of His creatures — an intimate, eternal, holy connection. And I am changed forever by I AM.

… for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. ~Luke 1:49


What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “Name”?

Karen Edmisten is the author of The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary and Through the Year With Mary: 365 Reflections. She’s a contributor to Atheist to Catholic: Stories of Conversion and A Little Way of Homeschooling: Thirteen Families Discover Catholic Unschooling and is currently at work on a book about miscarriage (due out in 2012.) She blogs about faith, family life, books and education at the place with the shockingly clever title, Karen Edmisten.


  1. Katie @ Wellness Mama

    I love this: “I can barely fathom Who and What God is, but when I call on His Name, when He calls mine, I have a glimpse of what He intends for me and for all of His creatures — an intimate, eternal, holy connection. And I am changed forever by I AM.”

    Glad to have discovered Karen’s blog today… thanks Jen!

    • Erin

      AMEN! I second the exact thing.

  2. drustee

    I found this post very moving. Especially following the post on the informal ‘Your’ Jesus invites us to use in this prayer.
    Thank you.

  3. Jen

    I’m loving this series. As a regular reader of this blog and Karen’s, I really liked this post. I can’t round it out at the moment, but I’m reminded of Moses and the burning bush. As a sign for the people to believe him, Moses asks for God’s name.

  4. Lisa Mladinich

    This is so beautiful! Thank you Karen, and thank you Jennifer!

    Incidentally, I was at the Mom’s Day Away and Jennifer’s talk was GREAT!!!

    Jennifer, any chance you’ll post notes on the talk for review? I was so captivated that I didn’t take very good notes. I’d love to be able to review the points you covered, again.

    God bless you!

    In Christ, Lisa

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Lisa! I hadn’t thought about posting the notes — shoot me an email and I’ll try to get a writeup to you. Thanks again!

  5. Karen Edmisten

    Thanks for all the kind comments — Jen, this is indeed a great series! Happy to be a part of it.

  6. Pete

    In the Our Father, Jesus teaches us to say, “hallowed by thy name” Why not simply something like “hallowed be you”? I’m sure there is something important to be learned here, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.

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