Have you ever been to a conference for work, or a large meeting or convention, where you were required to wear a temporary name badge? It might be a simple sticker with a space to write your name, or it might be a pre-printed card set inside a clear plastic pouch attached to a lanyard or a safety pin. It may have a stripe or box in a bright color, and/or an introductory word or phrase, such as “Hello..” or “My name is…”
Perhaps you’ve had to wear a name tag for work on a daily basis, or you have to carry an ID tag pinned to your shirt, lapel, or around your neck or waist.
Such tags serve a purpose; they are functional, if boring, and even if they are also annoying, they are temporary. Some of them give a little more information, such as where you are from or what company, or plant, or building you represent. Name tags make it easy to identify someone and put a name to a face. But a name tag cannot reveal much beyond a person’s name. Sometimes, a name tag doesn’t even meet that simple criterion. I have a simple name, Lila, that is commonly misspelled and misspoken. I have had people look right at my name tag and call me, “Lisa,” “Lily,” or “Leah.” Wearing my name on my shirt or hanging from my neck may (or may not) make me identifiable. It does not make me knowable or known.
When we come before the Throne of God, we need no name tag. God not only knows our name, He knows us intimately– our thoughts, our attitude, our fears, our hopes, our weaknesses and strengths. He has numbered the hairs on our heads, and knows the words we will say before they reach our tongues.
This knowledge might cause us apprehension– there can be no hiding from God–even if we can lie to ourselves about our actions, motivations, and feelings, we can’t lie to Him. But this intimate knowledge should also ease our every fear– God knows all about us, and loves us unconditionally.
Prayer can be many things– joyful, contrite, needy– but it never needs to be small talk!