Dec 05

FOR FAITH: Praying Names

NameI love praying that people will live the meaning of their names. I used to post four names and prayers here each month. Folks stopped suggesting names to me though, so for some reason I stopped posting them.

Now that we’re heading toward Christmas, I wanted to pick one and pray that all of us—yup, even you guys—may learn to live the meaning of this name. Mary.

The following is an excerpt from I am Mary (my latest study in the series With Faith Like Hers). I pray that all of us will learn to allow God to make good out of bad situations, be a refuge for people who are struggling with bitterness and live above our own circumstances, walking above the bitter seas with Jesus holding our hand.


MARY cover PURPLE jpeg

The name Mary means sea of bitterness. Not just a little bitter; not bitterness in general. A whole sea of bitterness. I imagine that sea of bitterness is made up of tears. Why would a woman named Mary even want to live the meaning of that name?

Living the meaning of the name Mary can remind us that God can make good out of even bad situations. We can be a refuge for other people who are struggling or who are presently bitter in their own lives.

Also, just as Jesus walked on water, living the meaning of the name Mary can remind us that through the power of Jesus, we can walk above the sea of bitterness in our own lives. We may have it hard. We may not see any way out or around our troubles, but just as Jesus called out to Peter in the boat and just as Peter walked out in faith, we too can walk above that sea of bitterness. And unlike Peter, we can keep walking—through the power of Jesus. The challenge is to first step out in faith and then keep stepping forward toward Jesus.

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple on the eighth day after He was born, Simeon told Mary she would know tears. Simeon told her that a sword would pierce her heart.

Yes, Jesus belonged to God. Jesus was God. But Jesus was Mary’s son, too. He was her baby boy—the little guy who smiled at her and cooed. She held His hands when He took His first step. He brought her dandelions He had picked in the field. And then, she stood at the foot of the cross and watched as His naked body hung there to die.

Mary must have shed a sea of tears.

But Mary’s tears were tears of grief; not tears of bitterness. She loved and trusted God that much. Tears of grief were evidence of her love. Tears of grief were tears God could heal. So she must have shed them freely for the little boy, grown man, God in human form, Jesus.

Mary’s tears were tears for her personal loss. What Jesus accomplished through His sacrifice though allowed everyone—not just Mary, but including her—to walk above the sea of bitterness in their lives, if they but come to the cross, call His name, and step out of the boat.

The point of why it is a good thing to live the meaning of the name Mary is that it shows the world the power of God in you to rise above circumstances. However deep that sea of bitterness is, living the meaning of the name means you don’t sink beneath the bitterness but have the power through Jesus to escape the bitterness, rise above it and quench your thirst with His sweet-tasting living water.


Lord, I pray we will always remember that although things in life may be bitter, we are loved by a God who understands bitterness and can make good come out of every bad thing. I pray also that we will be a refuge for others who are trying to heal from their own bitterness; that we will be a healing sea for them. I pray that we will recall how you rose to walk on water at the Sea of Galilee. I pray that we will see that as an example that we, too—through the power of Jesus—can walk above our personal sea of bitterness and live in you and you in us. Amen.


  1. Chris Vonada

    I love the “praying names” series! How interesting that Mary’s name means “sea of bitterness”

    Here’s an interesting quote that I just read this morning…

    “Who are you?” is a question for which a name is never the answer. Edgar A. Morales

    I believe that was true for Mary, that her name didn’t define her. I think you’ve nailed in how Mary rose above the circumstances.

    1. carolwritesbooks@gmail.com

      Great quote. Also reminds me of Romeo and Juliet–a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But since names do have meanings, it’s easy to remember to pray that way once you know the meaning of someone’s name. For themselves, too.

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