Lesson 5 – Calling on the Name of the Lord (Reading)
THE DEFINITION OF CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD
Firstly, we need to learn the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord. Some Christians think that calling on the Lord is the same as praying to Him. Formerly, I held the same concept. One day, however, the Lord showed me that calling on His name is different from merely praying. Yes, calling is a type of prayer, for it is a part of our prayer, but calling is not merely praying. The Hebrew word for call means to “call out to,’’ “to cry unto,’’ that is, to cry out. The Greek word for call means “to invoke a person,’’ “to call a person by name.’’ In other words, it is to call a person by naming him audibly. Although prayer may be silent, calling
must be audible.
To call on the Lord also means to cry to Him and to experience spiritual breathing. “I called upon Your name, O Jehovah, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice; do not hide Your ear at my breathing, at my cry’’ (Lam. 3:55-56). These verses indicate that calling is also crying and breathing. Crying is the best breathing. Whenever you cry out, you breathe spontaneously and deeply. By crying and breathing we both exhale and inhale. Inhaling always follows exhaling. By exhaling we breathe out all the negative things. Whenever you breathe out the negative things, the positive things of the Lord will fill you up. By calling on
His name all the sinful, evil, and unclean things will be breathed out, and all the positive things — the riches of the Lord — will be breathed into you.
There is one matter that is very important, yet it is not clear to many Christians. It concerns two things: the name of the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord. The name of the Lord is Jesus, and the Spirit of the Lord is the Lord Himself, the person of the Lord. Everyone has a name, and every name denotes a person, who is the person himself. If there were no such person but only a name, then that name would equal nothing. Jesus is the name of the Lord, and the Spirit is the person of the Lord. When I call the Lord’s name, the Spirit comes.
Brothers and sisters, do you think that the Lord Jesus is merely an empty name? The Lord Jesus is real; therefore, when you call, He comes, and the One who comes is the Spirit. Do not think that calling upon the name of the Lord is a small matter; you cannot call upon the name of the Lord Jesus without any result. When you call, “O Lord Jesus!”, He comes. We can often use physical things as illustrations of spiritual matters. To enjoy the Lord in our spirit is like breathing the air physically. Just as your body takes in fresh air by breathing, so also your spirit inhales the Lord when you call on His name. I believe that all of us have had this experience. Whenever we truly open to the Lord and call on His name, we have the sense of the Lord’s presence within us. The more you call, the more you receive the supply of the Lord; the more you call, the more you are watered by Him; the more you call, the more you are filled with Him. The Lord is the Lord of all! When the Lord comes into us, whatever we need, He is. He is all that we need, and He supplies all of our needs. Lamentations 3:55 says, “I called upon Your name, O Jehovah, / From the lowest pit.” At a times praying is of no avail; you need to call. If you call out loud a few times when you are pressed, you will be able to break through and rise above your feeling. Often your calling on the Lord’s name is for the demons to hear so that they can be driven off. When you are about to lose your temper, you have no time to pray, but you can quickly call on the Lord. Calling on the Lord is the best way to chase away the temper-losing demon and the trouble-making demon.
THE PURPOSE OF CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD
Why do we need to call on the name of the Lord? Men need to call on the name of the Lord in order to be saved (Rom. 10:13). Suppose a particular person hears the gospel and begins to believe in the Lord. You can help him to be saved by having him pray to the Lord in a very quiet way, and I have seen many persons saved in this manner. However, if you would not only help him to pray, but also to call upon the name of the Lord, his experience of salvation would be much stronger. The first way, the way of praying quietly, does help people to be saved, but not so richly. The second way, the way of calling loudly, helps people to be saved in a richer and more thorough way. Thus, we need to encourage people to open themselves and to call on the name of the Lord Jesus.
Another reason for calling on the Lord is to be rescued from distress (Psa. 18:6; 118:5), from trouble (Psa. 50:15; 86:7; 81:7), and from sorrow and pain (Psa. 116:3-4). People who have argued about calling on the Lord found themselves calling on Him when they were subject to a certain trouble or illness. When our lives are free from trouble, we will argue about calling on the Lord. However, when trouble comes, there will be no need for anyone to tell you to call on Him. You will call spontaneously. Calling on the Lord rescues us and delivers us. We need to call on the Lord when in distress and trouble. Furthermore, Psalm 116:3-4 tells us that calling on the name of the Lord rescues us from many negative things such as pain, sorrow, death, and hell. If you want to be delivered from such things, you need to call on the Lord.
Psalm 116 also tells us that we may partake of the Lord’s salvation by calling on Him. “I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of Jehovah” (v. 13). In this one psalm calling on the Lord is mentioned four times (vv. 2, 4, 13, 17). The calling here is for the purpose of partaking of the Lord’s salvation. As we have seen earlier, the way to draw water out of the wells of salvation is to call upon the name of the Lord (Isa. 12:2-4).
Romans 10:12 says that the Lord of all is rich to all who call upon Him. The Lord is rich and rich to all who call upon Him. The way to enjoy the riches of the Lord is to call upon Him. The Lord is not only rich, but also nigh and available as mentioned in verse 8 of the same chapter because He is the life-giving Spirit. As the Spirit, He is omnipresent. At any time and in any place we may call on His name. When we call on Him, He comes to us as the Spirit, and we enjoy His riches. When you call on Jesus, the Spirit comes.
By calling on the name of the Lord we can stir up ourselves. Isaiah 64:7 says, “And there is no one who calls upon Your name, who stirs himself up to lay hold of You.” When we feel that we are down or low, we can lift and stir ourselves up by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus.
THE PRACTICE OF CALLING ON THE NAME THE LORD
How should [we] call on the Lord? We must call on Him out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). Our heart, which is the source [of our calling], must be pure, seeking nothing but the Lord Himself. We must call with a pure lip (Zeph. 3:9). We need to watch our speech, for nothing contaminates our lips more than loose talk. If our lips are impure due to loose talk, it will be difficult for us to call on the Lord. Along with a pure heart and pure lips, we need to have an open mouth (Psa. 81:10; cf. v. 7). We need to open our mouth wide to call on the Lord.
Furthermore, we need to call on the Lord corporately. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” We need to come together for the purpose of calling on the name of the Lord.
Psalm 88:9 says, “I have called out to You, O Jehovah, every day.” Hence, we should call daily upon His name. This matter of calling on the name of the Lord is not a doctrine. It is very practical. We need to practice it daily and hourly. We should never stop breathing. We all know what happens when breathing ceases. Furthermore, Psalm 116:2 says, “Therefore I will call upon Him all my days.” As long as we live we should call on the name of the Lord. I hope that many more of the Lord’s people, especially the new ones, will begin this practice of calling on the Lord. If you do it, you will see that it is the best way to enjoy the Lord’s riches.
We have already seen clearly that eating the Lord is the way to enjoy the Lord. Eating the Lord, which is a spiritual expression, is really calling on the Lord. Calling on the Lord is our way to enjoy the Lord. There is another matter to which many can testify. When you preach the gospel to someone the best way is to help him open his mouth to call on the Lord. When others call on the Lord with you, their spirit is unconsciously opened to the Lord. When their spirit is opened, the Lord, who is the living Spirit, enters into their spirit, and they are saved. Many brothers and sisters can testify to the fact that the quickest and most effective way to preach the gospel is to help people call on the Lord Jesus.
Furthermore, the Bible shows us that when we are offering sacrifices to God, that is, when we are giving thanks to God, we must also call on the Lord. Whenever your heart is touched by the Lord’s grace and you give thanks to the Lord, you must call on the Lord from deep within. The thing that most glorifies the Lord and gives Him the utmost thanks and praises is our calling on the Lord. Therefore, you must learn to call on the Lord, and you also must learn to mingle your calling on the Lord with your pray-reading of the Word. If you practice these two ways every day your entire being will be saturated with the Lord. For the Lord to operate in us, we must learn to call on the Lord until this becomes a natural habit in our living. In the first century all the proper Christians lived a life of calling on the Lord.