Summary: 4th in a series on the Lord's Prayer
1 Holy Is Your Name
I’m interested in your opinions. What is it about the Lord’s Prayer that’s helped to solidify its position in modern day Christianity? Why is it so endearing?
Today we’re taking a look at the first plea of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave this example of effective prayer to us in response to some of his disciples striking up a conversation with him about prayer.
We don’t know exactly why they picked this time and place to talk to Jesus about meaningful prayer. Maybe it was because they saw something lacking in their own prayer times that sparked an interest. Maybe it was because Jesus prayed to the Father on a totally different level than they did.
Whatever the reason, Jesus, on two separate occasions outlines what effective prayer looks like. One example is in Matthew 6, the other in Luke 11. And even though those two prayers are similar, they’re also different, because one point Jesus makes is not to get hung up on the words. He says pay closer attention to the attitude behind them. His prayer is a template not a mandate.
So he starts with showing us that God is someone approachable and full of grace and that we’re all joined together in the family of God with just two words: “Our Father.” And he points everyone to where the Father lives and the final destination for all who follow Jesus: heaven. It’s going to be unlike anything we’ve experienced – it will be something…heavenly!
2 Then Jesus moves ahead with this phrase: "Hallowed be Your Name." When we think of "hallowed" we think of "holy" and “blessed,” “revered” and “respected.” If something is "hallowed" it’s sanctified, special, uncontaminated, and blessed. It means we have a different quality of being, a higher quality that is extraordinary, and set apart.
God is separate from us in that He is completely undefiled. So Jesus is saying, “May Your Name be held in the highest regard as Holy." "May You be revered and respected because of Who You are. May Your character and reputation be honored and kept untarnished." One of our highest goals and deepest passions should be that God’s Name is revered – that we live with the idea that my life will honor God to the very best of my ability.
To hallow God’s Name is to recognize, regard, respect, revere, profess and proclaim God as holy. There is nothing we can add to make him any more or any less holy than he already is. Although we have free access to God, when we take advantage of His open-door policy – that is we can pray to him anytime anywhere; we’re free to open his word anytime we want to – we should speak to Him, however, with reverence.
"Hallowed be Thy Name" balances out "Our Father" because in these two opening phrases we see both our close, intimate relationship to God, and the respectful honor that is due to Him.
Maybe think of it in terms of how people respect the Flag. On Memorial Day, as the flag is paraded by, it’s evident who’s been taught to respect our nation and who has not. When the flag passes by, some stand, remove their hats and place their hand over their hearts as a sign of respect. Others will salute…and others will keep their hats on, put their hands in their pockets and keep talking to their friends. In the same way, some people honor God, while others do not.
3 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” So God should be set apart from everything that is common or irreverent, so that he will have the place in our lives that He deserves.
Martin Luther asked this rhetorical question to his students: "How is God’s Name hallowed among us?" The answer, he said: "When both our doctrine and our life are godly and Christian."
Jewish worshippers in the Old Testament regarded the Name of God as absolutely sacred – so much so that when scribes copied Scripture they would use a new quill to write the His Name. Back then, it was considered irreverent even to speak God’s Name out loud.
There are many names for God in the Bible that describe his holiness. Religious leaders took two names-Adonai, which means "the Lord God", and Yahweh, the Name God gave to Moses – and they took the vowels of the first, the consonants of the second, and came up with Jehovah, a made-up word, one they felt they could speak without offending the holiness of God.
Somehow, though, through the years, we’ve lost the awe of God and aren’t as impressed with his name or his majesty. And by starting with God’s holiness in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus recognizes and conveys the idea that prayer is not primarily for our benefit because the posture of prayer should always honor and respect God first.