What Is Calling On the Name of the Lord?
22 Sep 2013
In this post we’ll discuss something that can be traced through the entire Bible, from Genesis all the way through the New Testament: the practice of calling upon the name of the Lord. We’ll discuss how it began and the benefits we receive when we call upon the Lord.
Calling out loud
All Christians have at some point in time prayed to God. God hears these prayers, whether they’re silent, quiet, or loud. But the practice of calling, a form of praying, is definitely audible. The Greek word for call in the Bible means to call out to a person by name.
For example, when a little boy falls off a swing, he immediately cries out, “Mommy!” His mother hears and runs to him, wipes away his tears, and soothes him. Children cry out to their mothers when they’re hungry, tired, or scared. They cry because they’re helpless and they need to be cared for.
Similarly, by simply crying out to the Lord, we are saying we’re hungry for Him, we need Him, and we can’t make it without Him.
How it all began
How did the practice of calling aloud begin?
Genesis 4:26 tells us that the practice of calling on the Lord began way back with the third generation of mankind, with a man named Enosh:
“And to Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of Jehovah.”
But why did men begin to call upon the name of the Lord at that time? And why do we in the modern world still call?
The meaning of the name Enosh gives us a clue. It means frail, mortal man. Enosh realized his frailty and mortality, and the vanity of human life without God. So, he began to call on the name of Jehovah, the Hebrew word for Lord.
The name Jehovah means I am that I am. Jehovah is the eternal God, the only One who is. With Enosh, frail mortal man realized he needed the eternal God.
Humanity’s condition is the same today as it was at Enosh’s time. We are still frail and mortal. Our life is often confusing, full of turmoil, and even overwhelming. We are limited physically and psychologically, and we need the eternal God.
What are the benefits of calling?
We are saved
In the New Testament, the name of the Lord is Jesus. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus brings us salvation!
But that’s just the beginning. As believers, by calling on the Lord’s name, we continue to enjoy the full salvation we have in Christ.
The New Testament gives us numerous accounts of believers who called on the name of the Lord Jesus in different situations (see Acts 2:21, note 1).
As believers today, although we are saved eternally, we also need to be saved from the many negative things we encounter in daily lives now.
When we call, “Oh Lord Jesus!” we’re not shouting random, meaningless words. For instance, some fitness instructors end their classes by having everyone yell out loud to relieve stress. To yell unintelligible sounds might release endorphins and make us feel better temporarily, but it doesn’t get to the inner root of our problems. And it’s certainly not what calling aloud on the name of the Lord Jesus is.
When we call upon the name of the Lord, we’re calling on the name of our living, resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. By calling, we contact Him with our human spirit. When we call, He saves us. What do we need saving from? Things like our anger, depression, impatience, sadness, discouragement, and anxiety, to name a few. Calling upon the Lord Jesus saves us from these and so many other negative things.
We enjoy the riches of Christ
Romans 10:12 says that the Lord of all is “rich to all who call upon Him.” Notice the word “rich.” Calling not only saves us from many negative things, but it’s also the way for us to enjoy how rich Christ can be in our experience.
Christ wants to be rich to us. As we call upon Him, we enjoy Christ Himself as our comfort, peace, love, hope, patience, kindness, endurance, longsuffering, strength, faith—whatever we need!
Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus is like drawing refreshing water from a deep well that never runs dry. Every time we call on His wonderful name, we receive Him as a fresh, satisfying supply. Our human spirit yearns for the pure riches we receive by calling on this precious name.
John Newton, author of the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace,” was one who enjoyed the riches in the name of Jesus. Here’s the first verse of another hymn he wrote:
“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.”
You can read the rest of this wonderful hymn and hear the tune at www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/66#ixzz1xnElpnCw.
The Lord Jesus is always available—He’s just a call away!
Have you ever called on the Lord before? What was your experience?
This post is based on chapter 4 of Basic Elements of the Christian Life, vol. 1. Bibles for America gives this book away for free; order your free copy here. You can also download a PDF version from the publisher here.