What Is Calling on the Name of the Lord?

16 May 2016


In this post we’ll discuss a practice by God’s people seen throughout the entire Bible: the practice of calling on the name of the Lord. Let’s see what it is to call on the name of the Lord and how this practice can benefit us.

Calling on the name of the Lord means out loud

All Christians have at some point prayed to God. God hears these prayers, whether they’re silent, quiet, or loud. But the practice of calling, which is a form of praying, is definitely audible. In the Bible, the Hebrew word for call means to call out to, to cry unto, and the Greek word means to invoke a person, to call a person by name.

For example, when a little boy falls off a swing, he immediately cries out loud, “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 crying out to the Lord, we’re saying we’re hungry for Him, we need Him, and we can’t make it without Him.

How calling on the Lord began

When did people begin to practice audibly calling on the name of the Lord?

It might surprise you to know that Genesis 4:26 tells us the practice of calling on the Lord began long ago—by the third generation of mankind when Adam’s grandson Enosh was born:

“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 people begin to do this?

The meaning of the name Enosh gives us a clue. It means frail, mortal man. Because of mankind’s fall, man was frail and without God, the meaning of his existence. From the time of Enosh, men realized both the emptiness and vanity of life apart from God as well as their own fragility and mortality.

So they began to call upon the name of Jehovah, the Hebrew word for Lord. The meaning of the name Jehovah is I am that I am. He is the eternal God, the unique One who is. Everything and everyone else is not. Frail, mortal human beings realized they needed the eternal God.

Humanity’s condition is the same today as it was in Enosh’s time. We’re still frail and mortal, and life is often confusing, full of turmoil, and even overwhelming to us. We’re limited physically and psychologically. We need the eternal God.

Let’s look at the benefits we receive when we call on the name of the Lord.

We’re 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.”

When we believe and call on the name of the Lord Jesus, confessing Him with our mouth, we’re saved eternally from God’s judgment; we’re forgiven, justified in Christ, and born again with the divine life of God.

But that first time we call upon the name of Jesus to receive God’s salvation is just the beginning. After our initial salvation, by calling on Jesus we can continue to enjoy our full salvation in Christ. This includes daily salvation from many negative things, such as anger, depression, impatience, sadness, discouragement, and anxiety, to name a few.

How can calling on the Lord save us from these things? When we call, “Oh, Lord Jesus!” we’re not shouting random, meaningless words. That would be akin to yelling out words to relieve stress, as some do during a workout. Yelling unintelligible sounds or even inspiring words might release endorphins and temporarily make us feel better, but it doesn’t get to the root of our problems.

By calling on the Lord’s dear name, we contact the Lord who is dwelling in our spirit as the life-giving Spirit. And when we call on Jesus, He saves us by imparting more of His divine life into us.

We enjoy the riches of Christ

Romans 10:12 says the Lord of all is “rich to all who call upon Him.” Christ wants us to enjoy His riches in our daily lives.

Christ is rich to us when we call upon Him. He is rich to us as comfort, peace, love, hope, patience, kindness, endurance, longsuffering, strength, faith, and more—what riches are in His name!

A life-long practice

The practice of calling upon the Lord as revealed in the Bible isn’t to say the Lord’s name as a lifeless ritual. It is our calling on the One we love, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

Wherever we are and at any time, whether we call loudly or softly, just like a child get’s the mother he calls out to, we get our living Lord. The Lord Jesus is always available—He’s just a call away!

Calling upon the Lord Jesus is like drawing refreshing water from a deep well that never runs dry. We receive Him as a fresh, satisfying supply. Our human spirit yearns for the pure riches we receive when we call on the Lord’s precious name.

John Newton, author of the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace,” was a person who enjoyed the riches in the name of Jesus. In another of his hymns, he speaks of his experience:

“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 hymn and hear the tune here.)

To learn more about the practice of calling on the name of the Lord, we recommend reading Acts 2:21, note 1, in the Recovery Version. You can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here.

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