Reverencing God's name

HOW often during the day do we hear God's name uttered without a spark of reverence? We hear it from our televisions, radios, our friends, strangers on the street, even from little children playing in the park. This unhallowed use of God's name sometimes merely expresses surprise or dismay. In drama it may simply indicate some kind of nonchalant reaction. As world events become more challenging, larger numbers of people are turning to prayer in order to cope with the current scene. But how often are all those who use the words ``O God'' or ``O my God'' really turning to God in prayer? Have the words become empty, without any element of the worship they should indicate? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer.'' 1 This habitual struggle becomes a way of life to those who understand God as the creator of all good, the only genuine source of good, who has made man in His likeness to express His pure, intelligent nature. It becomes a way of life to those who recognize God as the actual Life of man. Consequen tly, earnest, God-loving people have found that a sudden turning to God with veneration can be a healing prayer. For example, one warm October day two women were driving down a short but very steep driveway, across the street from a deep ravine. Suddenly the driver found she had no brakes! She barely had enough time to inform her friend and declare aloud, ``O God!'' She heard her friend say the same quick prayer. For both of them it was profound, heartfelt prayer, springing from a lifetime of love and reverence for God, whose care is always at hand. Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The history of Christianity furnishes sublime proofs of the supporting influence and protecting power bestowed on man by his heavenly Father, omnipotent Mind, who gives man faith and understanding whereby to defend himself, not only from temptation, but from bodily suffering.'' 2 Both women had seen these ``sublime proofs'' in healings brought about through the understanding of man's absolute unity with God, good. So, at this moment of terror, it was natural that they turned with faith and understanding to God, who they knew could save them. As the driver reached the street, she swerved with all her might to the left, trying to make the turn onto the street. As a result, the car hit the only tree that was there to keep them from careening on down the embankment. Is it any wonder the words ``O my God'' mean so much to some people that they find irreverent, profane use of that phrase objectionable? We might all pray, whenever we hear it, that individuals will awake to realize their actual relationship to the One whose name they use so casually. Of course, we can't hope to control other people's language, and that's not our responsibility. Yet tacit acceptance of irreverent language doesn't help uplift society's moral standard. An amiable, even humorous rebuke can sometimes be effective. On a golf course, one partner in a foursome became so disgusted with a poor shot that he threw his club and blasted out a familiar request for God to condemn the whole situation. ``He won't do it, you know,'' said one of the partners, smiling. ``Who won't do what?'' asked the disturbed golfer. ``God won't damn anything, because He is Love, and He's in the business of doing only good,'' replied the partner with a twinkle of humor. Instead of being alienated, the irate golfer laughingly accepted the rebuke, and the game continued in greater harmony. If the Third Commandment, ``Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,''3 isn't instruction enough, shouldn't we heed the words of the Way-shower, Christ Jesus? Referring to God in the Lord's Prayer, he says, ``Hallowed be thy name.'' 4 1 Science and Health, p. 4. 2 Ibid., p. 387. 3 Exodus 20:7. 4 Matthew 6:9.

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