5 February 2024 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
As a child I said “Dear Jesus” in my prayers. As an adult I’ve come to say “Abba/Father“ and conclude with “in Jesus name.” Why don’t we include prayers to the Holy Spirit as “He” is God also?
Signed, Searching for the Name
There have long been people who think that the secret to prayer is to call God by the correct name.
The problem is: no one knows God’s real name. Jewish translators, out of reverence, dropped out all the vowels in the name they received, coming up with the word “Yahweh,” which in Hebrew sounds a bit like “I am.” But the preface to the New American Standard Bible says, “No complete certainty attaches to this pronunciation.”
The words we use today come from other languages. The word “God” goes back to ancient Germanic words for pouring out a libation that, some scholars say, may originally have been attached to idols. “Jesus” is another form of the name of the Old Testament hero Joshua, and “Christ” means “anointed.” “Holy Spirit” just means “holy breath.” “Lord” is a translation of the Hebrew word “elohim”; in languages with Latin roots, such as Spanish, the same word (“Señor, for example) is used in everyday conversation as “sir” or “mister.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses make knowing God’s real name a key doctrine—but their word “Jehovah” is actually a Latin adaptation of Yahweh, adopted long after the composition of the Old Testament.
Aunty finds the whole discussion unnecessary. God answers to the respectful addresses of his followers, no matter which name they use. The wisdom books, such as Psalms and Proverbs, addressed God with metaphors such as “refuge,” “strength,” or “strong tower,” and God heard their prayers.
As for praying to the Holy Spirit, Aunty sees nothing to prevent it, since all three parts of the traditional Trinity are God. You might be interested to know, however, that there is grammatical evidence that the Holy Spirit is in the feminine gender in some texts, and to this day some Jews and Christians believe that the Holy Spirit (to the extent she can be thought to have a gender at all) should be considered female.
Aunt Sevvy has collected her answers into a book! You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Your real identity will never be revealed.