Anthropomorphism. I do it all the time. It means to give human characteristics to non-human things. I do voices for our dogs to explain their facial expressions or their behavior. I do it for my truck Rusty, ascribing to him traits he doesn’t really have, or feelings or even masculinity. ( trucks are in fact gender neutral, but don’t tell Rusty).
When I looked up the word to make sure I was getting it right it said anthropomorphism is something we do to non-human things, especially deity, gods.
That’s strange for me to write deity, like there are a multitude of gods. I believe there is only one God and he exists in 3 persons but that’s not what I want to write about.
Matthew 6 has the prayer in it that we call the Lord’s Prayer.
I’ll quote it here in context but I really only want to look at the first line of the prayer.
“5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Hallowed be your name. Why would Jesus recommend we start our prayers like that? Hallowed. It isn’t a word we use often. It means revered or holy. Holy is a word that grasps the meaning for me. Holy means separate or special or “other”.
All we see around us, all we can know or experience, is all part of the things God created but God himself is not part of his creation. He is holy, he is other, he is not from around here, he is different. Jesus knew our propensity to anthropomorphize things around us to help us understand them, but we cannot treat God that way. We cannot understand God better by attributing to him human characteristics. He made us in his image, it doesn’t work to return the favor and recreate him in our image. One reason for that is that that puts limits on God and God is limitless. When we sit down to pray and we start out by stating, “God, you are not from around here, you are not limited like I am, you are not a created being, instead, you are the creator, you are separate from us and yet you love us and joined yourself to us in Jesus, you became God in the flesh, you are to be hallowed, you are so awesome and great and fantastic that it makes me want to worship you”.
Once I have established that mind set, then I can get on with my prayer. I can pray for his kingdom to advance in our world because I believe only he knows what is best and can do what is best. I can ask for my needs to be met, I can ask to be forgiven, I can ask for guidance and protection because I am talking to my God, the creator of the universe.
Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name.