Planted deep within each human heart is the desire to believe in something. Christians worship the god of the universe and seek to know and understand their relationship with him through the written word of the Bible. In ancient days when the children of Israel asked, “What is God’s name?” they meant what is his character; what are his attributes; his actions? In short, what sort of being is he?
Everything in the universe depends upon what sort of being brought it into existence. The same way the condition of a country depends on the character of its rulers; or the state of an army, its officers; the well-being of every human depends on their creator. God is a person, not some intellectual concept or doctrine. He is an eternal being who desires a close relationship with his people.
God revealed himself through Moses using the name of Yahweh, or I Am. This name is not just a mere word, but the divine manifestation of his presence. He became known through his relationship with people and in his dealings with them. Every attribute of God, every revelation of his character, every proof of his undying love and watchful care completes the filling out of his name.
Many people settle for rote religious practices rather than seeking a vibrant personal relationship with the living God. It’s difficult to trust and love someone you do not know. The difference between simply knowing something in your head and experiencing the reality in your life changes everything. The unrest and discomfort many Christians experience comes from not knowing the true essence of who God is. But we can know him through understanding his name and the ways he relates and interacts with us.
In Scripture, the names of God show up during personal encounters with him. His people knew him as provider, healer, savior, father and much more. To know God is to trust him; and trusting God builds a relationship with him that is vibrant and living.
God is still revealing himself to us in this day and age. Carol Raines, whose husband is an Anglican priest in Fresno, found a direct connection with God through a deep study of his names. She poured over Scripture, collecting and organizing nuggets of information and examples. Inspired by the richness and scope of the names, she organized them into three sections with 33 names for God the Father, 33 names for God the Son, and 33 names for God the Holy Spirit.
Around the same time, she overheard a couple of women talking about the Anglican rosary. She’d never even heard of a Protestant rosary before. As she listened further, she was stunned to learn the Anglican rosary was made up of 33 beads. Inspiration flooded her being. The rosary would be the perfect tool for learning and meditating on the names of God.
The fruit of Carol’s study and labor resulted in an amazing resource, which I am blessed to have partnered with her in writing. The title of the book is "The Anglican Rosary: God the Father — Devotions and Prayers for 33 Names of God." This is the first book of a series on 99 names of God. Each name has its own chapter focusing on the biblical context in which the name is found, a deeper understanding of the meaning of the name, and how it applies to our lives today. The accompanying rosary prayers then open the door to meaningful connection with God through Scripture verses, collects, hymns, and ancient prayers.
God created the earth, yet he desires an intimate relationship with us. He reveals himself through his names. Studying the names of God will transform one’s ability to hear his voice, trust in his provision, and see his actions around us. In his presence, we can find healing, restoration, encouragement and help to live a life of peace in the midst of the uncertainties of this world.
Jenny Lynn Estes is a writer, speaker and retreat leader who delights in sharing her passion for praying with the Protestant rosary. Her first book, "The Anglican Rosary: Going Deeper with God," provides a foundation for this continuing series of books on prayer. She is married to the Rev. Jack Estes, Rector of Ascension Anglican Church in Bakersfield. Her books are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.