In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. In verses 5-8, He begins by giving some general guidelines on how to pray and not to pray. Then in Verse 9 He goes on to teach that because of everything His life, death and resurrection would accomplish, we can approach God’s throne confidently. We can do so, because our relationship with Him has been restored, and that by grace through faith we have received adoption as God’s true and beloved children.
In the second half of verse 9 we start with the first of the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer. That word petition is just a fancy way of saying request.
The first of the seven requests is this, “Hallowed be your name.” Just what is Jesus teaching His disciples with these words?
Hallowed is a church word, I am pretty sure I have never heard anyone use it outside of talking about religion. Hallowed is a word that means to make holy, but holy is a word we rarely use outside of church either. For something to be holy, means that it is something that is set apart, something that is other, that is completely different.
In Isaiah chapter 6, when the prophet is brought before the throne of God the Seraph’s call out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;” (Is. 6:3) God is not just different, He is something completely other. Not holy, or ever really holy, but holy unlike anything else. God is something completely different than anything or anyone else.
If God is already holy, really beyond what we can comprehend, why would Jesus teach His disciples to pray, “Hallowed by your name?” What could they, or we, do to make God’s name any more holy than it already is?
The short answer is that we can’t, God’s name is perfectly holy as it is, and we can’t do anything to make it more holy. Instead, when we pray this petition we are praying that we could consider God’s name holy and that we would keep it holy.
Really this is the same thing that is taught in the 2nd commandment, from Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord you God in vain…” So how do we keep God’s name holy among us and not take it in vain? It all starts with the Word of God itself.
When the Word of God is taught rightly and truly, then God’s name is kept Holy. His name is kept holy among us when we gladly hear and receive the Word of God and trust what it has to say. The name of God is kept holy among us when we rest our trust, and our entire lives on what it has to say, and we live our lives according to it.
May God grant us the grace to keep His name holy, even when the word of God teaches us things we may not want to here, like those words that reveal to us our sin and need for salvation. May He grant us the grace to stake our entire beings on the promises of forgiveness and eternal life won by Jesus Christ.
Finally may God grant us the grace to live our lives according to His Holy Word, as the Apostles Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”