(I'm having trouble posting this, so my apologies if it ends up posted multiple times)
> It's interesting you bring up this particular example, since a friend of mine, an Inuit teacher and author who focuses a great deal on paleo-Hebrew, has recently written a book on the importance of using the Names of God (rather than simply "God" or "LORD", standing in for YHWH, etc.). I think the fact that we refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as "God" instead of "YHWH" leaves a lot of room for confusion. It's like referring to "the President" without any context - which president? President of what, and when?
In the Hebrew Bible, the word "Elohim" in various forms can mean either God or the pagan gods (or human judges). So the standard translation of "elohim" as "God" is actually a perfect fit; there is the same ambiguity in Hebrew as in English.
The Tetragrammaton YHWH is indeed more of an individual name. However, Jewish practice since about the third century BC is that the name is never pronounced outside the service at the Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed 70 AD). Instead, the word "adonai", which means "my Lord" is substituted. Translations of the Bible have generally used some form of "Lord" to translate the Tetragrammaton, since the Septuagint (though apparently some early manuscripts of the Septuagint use the Tetragrammaton).
Incidentally, the Biblical narrative of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rarely uses the Tetragrammaton; it almost always uses "Elohim" (God).
So I'm not sure why it is "important" to use YHWH rather than "God" or "the Lord". The translation of "Elohim" as "God" is correct. The translation of YHWH as "the Lord" is at least supported by 2000 years of tradition. (More years, as far as we know, than the Tetragrammaton was in actual spoken use.) Of course, if your friend finds it personally helpful in his readings of the Bible, or prayer, or spiritual exercises, then it's legitimately important for him.