Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Hallowed be thy name.
Matthew 6:9 (KJV)

Do we mean what we say in the Lord’s Prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer is among my most treasured scriptures. I have studied it in depth and pray the words with heartfelt sincerity. I’m continually bothered by the contradiction of our praying “hallowed be thy name” and our casual use of “oh my God”.

Ancient Jews didn’t dare speak the holy name of God, but only spelled it. Rabbi Irwin Kula, in Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, explains:

“The name used most often in Jewish texts is also the most mysterious and intimate. It is YHWH, which in English is all consonants and no vowels. In Hebrew it’s actually a word with no consonants and all vowels. Either way, it is unpronounceable. When you try to say it, you hear the sound of breath, a simple exhale. What is this teaching? The name of God is not meant to be uttered. YHWH is not meant to be known. YHWH is meant to be breathed.”

The name of God is the sound of breath.

In Genesis 2:7, God formed man from dust and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” We are created in His image and breathing His Spirit. Without inhaling and exhaling the breath of God, we aren’t alive.

Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but ‘oh my God’ isn’t allowed in my house. If I hear OMG, I light-heartedly remind them “I hope you’re praying”.

What do you think? Should we treat God’s name with more respect or is that an ancient custom?

The sacred name of God, YHWH, is meant to be breathed. (tweet it)

#SeedsOfScripture #YHWH #OMG


  1. Cathy, A very powerful post. I did not know that YHWH was meant to be breathed. Gives me goosebumps. Yes I think we should treat every aspect of God, especially His name, with respect.

    1. Yes, Rob Bell has an excellent Nooma video about the name of God being the sound of breathing. What is the first thing we do in life? Breath in. What is the last thing we do? Exhale our last. God is life.

  2. Cathy, I must be old fashioned also, as I am the same way, about not allowing those three words said in my home!!!! I do not say them, and I do not want to hear it from anyone!!! This has been going on in my life forever!!!! If the kids say it, I just give them a look, and they apologize, and say, 'Oh my goodness!'

    1. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. What's a polite way to ask people not to use the phrase?