Lord's Prayer 2 "Hallowed by Thy Name"
Last week we learned about prayer, and we will continue to learn about prayer. In fact, one of the first lessons that the Christians in the primitive church learned was about prayer, especially the prayer Jesus taught. Why is it so important to learn about prayer?
I would say, to us Christians, prayer is our life itself. Indeed I believe you can't separate your life from your prayer. What you are praying today reveals who you are. On the other hand, who you are will lead you to how you pray. Our prayer and life mutually affect each other.
That's why as Jesus taught about prayer, He began by a statement that we are different from Pagans. We are not pagans but children of God who call God our Father. Those pagans think prayer is a means to gain what they want. But, Jesus said, God knows what we need before we ask; that is to say, prayer is not designed to inform God what we need since He knows our needs.
We Christians don't pray to seek our own needs met since God knows our need, and He is more willing to give us than we ever ask Him. Then "if God knows our need, why do we need to pray with God? " you ask. The answer is the first phrase of the prayer Jesus taught: "Our Father in heaven." The object of our prayer is God the Father. Only those who can call God the Father, can pray to Him because prayer is fellowship with God, who we call Father.
Without such a relationship established, none is supposed to pray to God. For this reason, whoever wants to pray to God has to accept Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior.
On the other hand, this first phrase, "Our Father in Heaven," also tells us that as far as God is concerned, what we need most is our relationship with God, where we call God our Father. We often don't know what we should ask, but God knows that what we need most is our relationship with God. And He wants to give us most is also this Father and children relationship.
In this short phrase, "Our Father in Heaven," we learn another important truth. As you come to God, you don't come to Him as an individual but as a family member: You call God not my Father but our Father. As a prayer, you belong to God and to the family of God, which means we do have brothers who can also call God Father. Again, this tells us that we need other brothers and relationships as members of a family of God. In fact, when you become a child of God by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you give up independent and private life. You become a part of a family of God, where you share your life with other members of the family. In summary, last week I talked about the nature of prayer as fellowship with God as a member of a family of God.
Today, I want to talk about another answer for why we have to pray if God knows our needs. The answer lies in the following clause after "Our Father n heaven," "hallowed be your name."
I am going to use Pastor John Piper's excellent sermon to explain the points. (Note: All the following explanation is literally copied from John Piper' sermon, "Hallowed Be Thy Name: In All the Earth" https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/hallowed-be-thy-name-in-all-the-earth)
"Hallowed be your name" being the first petition, means the most important petition you may ask. This shows God's top priority is the hallowing of His name on all the earth; that is also to say, our first priority in praying should be to ask that our heavenly Father's name be hallowed. The prayer begins with God's name, not my name; that tells us our primary purpose in prayer is to glorify God's name. It tells us no mistakenly the focus of prayer is neither ourselves nor what we need or want. Instead, the focus of prayer is God Himself, who listens to our prayer. Our prior concern as prayers should be His name and Him being glorified
It is a request to God that he would see to it that His name be hallowed. The word "hallow" means to sanctify. So Jesus tells us to pray, "Let your name be sanctified." Sanctify can mean make holy or treat as holy. Therefore, when we pray, "hallowed be your name," we are asking God to see to it that His name be hallowed. So Jesus is teaching us to pray that God would cause His name to be treated as holy.
And our question becomes, what does it mean to treat God as holy? What are we asking God to do when we pray that He may cause His name to be treated as holy? Let's observe a few scripture verses to understand what it means.
First, during the wilderness wandering of the people of Israel, there was a time when they had no water. And the people grumbled against Moses. So God told Moses to speak to the rock and to bring forth water for the people. But Moses' spirit was bitter, and he spoke rashly and struck the rock twice with his rod. The water came, but so did the harsh word of God to Moses: "Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me (or hallow me) in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore, you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:12)
Notice the words: "You did not believe in me to sanctify (or hallow) me." These words give us our first answer to the question, what it means to sanctify or hallow the name of God. It means to believe him. God is not hallowed when we do not have a spirit of settled confidence and peace in his word.
John said, "He who does not believe God has made him a liar" (1 John 5:10). When you make somebody a liar, you profane that person's name. This is the opposite of treating the person as holy. Not trusting God is the exact opposite of hallowing his name. The first thing we mean then when we pray for God to cause His name to be hallowed is that he would cause people to believe him. "Hallowed be thy name" means, "Trusted be your word."
A second text that explains what it means to hallow the name of God is Isaiah 8:12-13 (Cf. 1 Peter 3:14-15). "Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the LORD of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe." God speaks to Isaiah and warns him not to be like the people of Israel. "Do not call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy (or hallow); let him be your fear, let him be your dread."
How do you hallow God according to this text? You hallow Him by not fearing what men fear but fearing God. Very practically it means that when God commands you to take your stand for him in a hostile situation, you fear displeasing God more than you fear the hostility of man. Don't fear losing your friends, reputation; instead, fear the prospect of saying no to God. He will compensate you for all your worldly losses when you obey him. But when you set yourself to oppose His will no one can compensate for the eternal consequences of that.
So when we pray, "Hallowed be thy name," we mean, "Father, let your name be feared." Or, more fully, "Father, cause people to have such a high view of you that it is a much more dreadful thing to lose your approval than to lose anything the world can offer."
The third text that sheds light on what it means to hallow God's name is Leviticus 22:31–32. "So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, but I will be hallowed among the people of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctify you."
We hallow the name of God when we keep his commandments. We profane the name of God when we break his commandments. So when we pray, "Father, let your name be hallowed," we mean, "Father, cause your commandments to be obeyed." "Hallowed be thy name" means "Obeyed be your commandments."
A final text to illustrate the meaning of hallowing God's name is Leviticus 10:3. "Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord has said, I will show myself holy among those who are near me, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" This text seems to say that God's showing himself holy and His being glorified are virtually the same thing. So when we pray, "Hallowed be thy name," we mean also, "Glorified be thy name."
Hallowed be thy name" is a request, not a declaration. We are not saying, "Lord, your name is hallowed!" We are saying, "Lord, cause your name to be hallowed!" That is, cause your word to be believed, cause your displeasure to be feared, cause your commandments to be obeyed, and cause yourself to be glorified. You hallow the name of God when you trust Him, revere Him, obey Him, and glorify Him.
The priority of our prayer is not to seek our own needs, but seek His name to be sanctified by trusting, revering, obeying and glorifying Him
The almost entire body of this sermon is the exact copy of Pastor John Piper's sermon, 'Hollowed by thy name," https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/hallowed-be-thy-name-in-all-the-earth