In my office there is a shadow box dedicated to my grandfather. My mom made it years ago and gave it to grandpa as a present. Protected under its glass cover are small remembrances of Grandpa Joe’s life: A receipt, sticker, and key ring from his business; several items from his days as Scoutmaster; a ribbon and pin from his days in the army; a photo; and a few mementos from his dad. These items have been set apart, hallowed if you will, in remembrance and celebration of Grandpa’s life and accomplishments.
In our previous article we covered the prayer basics of who, where, and when, here is the link in case you missed it. Trail Mix Prayer: The Basics. This article is the first of several that will cover the “what” of Trail Mix Prayer. By way of reminder we are likening prayer to trail mix, an energizing, sustaining, and portable food used by hikers. The major emphasis of this series is to encourage praying as we go; constantly connecting with God through the joys, sorrows, and struggles we encounter as each day unfolds. Our next topic, the first “what” found in Jesus’ model prayer is “Hallowed be your name” (Matt 6:9).
Hallowed – even though we don’t use that word much any more its effects remain. It can be seen in the hush and reverence when visiting a cemetery. The awe and sadness one feels when standing at the stone wall at Gettysburg that withstood Pickett’s charge. The sense of honor and debt that overwhelms when standing before names etched into the Vietnam War Memorial. The sense sacred reverence that can still be felt in churches around the world. Those places mentioned have been hallowed, set apart; in a sense made holy. John recounts in Revelation his vision of the most holy place – “And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever…” (Revelation 4:8–9, NASB95) In this scene from the most hallowed of places the worship of God is continuous and the declaration of His holiness is thunderous.
“Hallowed be Your name”, those simple words explode into a never ending cascade of worship as Jesus invites us to join the angels who ceaselessly worship at the throne of God. Worship is much more than the time of singing, grander even than our Sunday gatherings. It is our occupation, our never ending task of praising God for who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Worship is expressed in whispered thanks, exuberant praise, reverential surrender, humble action, joyful song, quiet tears, sacrificial giving, and peaceful contentment among many other things. John used three words to characterize the worship of the angels – glory, honor, and thanks.
Briefly summarized. Glory is the reflecting back of God’s goodness and attributes. Recognizing and declaring His love, grace, mercy, justice, compassion, and faithfulness. Honor is reflecting the awe due to Him through our actions, our choices, and our obedience to God’s will. Thanksgiving is simply recognizing and thanking God for what He has done, is doing, and will yet do in our lives and in the world around us. For the purposes of trail mix prayer we want to concentrate on thanksgiving which will encompass glory and honor.
One of the constant expressions in the writings of the Apostle Paul is thankfulness to God. Over and over again he wrote things like – “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,” (Romans 6:17, NASB95) Or – “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,” (Colossians 1:3, NASB95) And – “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;” (Ephesians 1:15–16, NASB95) By adding thanksgiving to our prayers on the go we open up our hearts to what God is doing. But more than that, thanksgiving is an act of obedience and recognition that God is in control and not us.
Thanksgiving is a vital part of trail mix prayer and perhaps the easiest habit to acquire. Whispering simple thank you prayers to God as your day unfolds makes a huge difference. They reminds us of God’s love and goodness. They allow us to enter into His compassion for the brokenness around us. They anchor our peace by recognizing that God is in control. All too often we approach God with grumblings and complaints on our lips instead of praise and thanksgiving. The Psalmist wrote however to, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4, NASB95) Saturating our prayers with thanksgiving sets our hearts in the right place, acknowledges our need and reliance on God, and looks ahead in faith. Even if we can’t find a way to thank God for our circumstance, we can thank Him for what He’s going to do and how it is shaping our love and faith. We can also thank God for the beauty of creation, the food on our table, and the love shared. We can thank Him for the answers received and those yet unseen. When we thank God for the blessings and challenges of each day we join the worship of the angels by declaring in practical terms His holiness, His hallowedness. In a way the thankful prayers of our day becomes like a shadow box filled with the grace and majesty of God.