STUDIES IN THE LORD'S PRAYER

Copyright © Rosemary Bardsley 2002

STUDY THREE: HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

In the Lord's Prayer Jesus indicated that the first consideration in prayer is not us or other people, but God himself. Jesus listed the first request, the first concern, as 'hallowed be your name'. What does this mean, and what are we praying when we put this request, this desire of ours to our Father in heaven?

A. THE MEANING OF 'HALLOWED'

'Hallow' means 'to make holy', 'to honour as holy' 'to treat as totally other' - distinct, separate, unique, one of a kind.

When we pray this we are praying that God will be given the honour and respect and adoration due to him as the one, true, holy, God. We are requesting, and committing ourselves to, the glory of his name.

To pray this prayer we must ourselves be convinced that God is indeed 'holy', or, at the least, want to be convinced that he is holy. After his confrontation with God in the temple Isaiah would have had no difficulty grasping hold of the concept of the holiness of God. Nor would others who had similar meetings.

Study the following and note what is revealed about God in each of them:
Reference
What it reveals about the holiness of God -

Exodus 33:18-34:7,

29-35

 

Isaiah 6:1-8

 

Ezekiel 1

 

Daniel 7:13-14

 

Revelation 1:9-18

 

These were all rather frightening and awesome visions of God. Yet they were only visions. We who know Jesus Christ have, if only we were aware of it, something far better, something much more able to teach us of God's holiness, of his right to ask us to pray that his name be hallowed. We have seen God in human flesh - not with our physical eyes as the disciples did, but with our hearts, souls, minds and spirits, as the Spirit of God has revealed the truth about Jesus to us through the words about Jesus recorded by the apostles. As John wrote :

'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth' [John 1:14].

John also wrote:

'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us' [1 John 1:1-3].

These Old Testament people, and these disciples, knew from vision and personal encounter that God was holy. Their response to this knowledge was to uphold that name, to make it hallowed and honoured in the presence of men, and by men.

B. CONCERN FOR GOD'S NAME IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Wherever there is idolatry, wherever there are false concepts of God, wherever people seek after other powers and put substitutes in God's place, there God's name is dishonoured, there God's name is not hallowed. And wherever those who claim him as their God do not live according to his character and his commands, there his name is dishonoured and not hallowed. This concern for God's name runs through the Old Testament, as we can see in the references listed in Worksheet 3.

Go to Worksheet 3, and read the references listed there. Write out the relevant section of each reference.

When we pray 'hallowed be your name' we are aligning ourselves with this over-riding concern of the Old Testament: we are expressing our desire that God's name will be honoured all over the earth, and in our own lives; we are praying that all that is contrary to his holy name, all false gods, all false powers, will be brought low. We are also praying that God will work in us so that we will not sin against his name.

C. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST

In John 17, when Jesus prayed to his Father, he summed up his life in this way:

'Father, ... I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. ... I have revealed your name (NIV footnote, and Greek text) to those whom you gave me out of the world ... I have made them known to them, and will continue to make you known ... ' [John 17:1,4,6,26].

The whole life of Christ on earth, as we have seen previously, was a manifestation, a revelation, of God. All that Jesus did, all that Jesus said, all that Jesus was, reveals to us the glory, power and holiness of God. [For extended studies on Christ's revelation of the Father go to the Who is Jesus? studies on this website.]

D. THE CONCERN OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

The concern for the honour of God's name also permeates the New Testament. It is this, and not our salvation, which is taught as the motivation for right living.

Jesus said:

'...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven' [Matt 5:16]

Paul said:

' ... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God' [1 Corinthians 10:31].

That our salvation is '... to the praise of his glorious grace ... that we ... might be for the praise of his glory ... to the praise of his glory' [Ephesians 1:6,12,14].

That his commission to preach the Gospel was 'for his name's sake' [Romans 1:5].

That 'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you' [Romans 2:25].

To behave in such a way 'that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered' [1 Timothy 6:1].

And that 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness' [2 Timothy 2:19].

That God has given Jesus 'the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth' [Philippians 2:9-10].

James spoke of those

'who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong' [James 2:7].

Peter said:

'But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light ... Live such good lives among the pagans that ... they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us' [1 Peter 2:9,12].

In Revelation we read that:

[1] The name of the Lord is honoured and exalted:

'You have ... endured hardships for my name' [2:3].

'You remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me' [2:13].

'You have kept my word and have not denied my name' [3:8].

'Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed' [15:4].

[2] The name of the Lord is blasphemed:

'The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies ... he opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven' [13:5-6].

'they cursed (blasphemed) the name of God ... but they refused to repent and glorify him' [16:9, see also 16:11,21].

SUMMARY:

This phrase of the Lord's prayer teaches us that our Number One priority in prayer is God's honour - the honour of his name. This phrase teaches us that all of our praying must be subservient to this, that right praying, valid praying, falls within the boundary set by this first prayer 'hallowed be your name'.

PERSONAL CHALLENGE BASED ON STUDY THREE:

We pray 'hallowed be your name'. Do we mean it? Check it out in the table below.
Never
Sometimes
Usually
Always

I try to live my life in such a way as to bring honour to his name.

       

I am grieved by the fact that people honour substitutes as 'god'.

       

When I sin I am saddened by my failure to honour him as God.

       

I do my best to make his name known to those who do not know him.

       

I hate to hear his name used as a common swear word.

       

I grieve when my actions cause someone else to dishonour God.

       

I am grieved when I see Christians living contrary to God's glory.

       

In my choices, God's honour is more important than my wants.

       
Think about it next time you pray 'hallowed be your name'. Do we really mean it in the nitty-gritty of our lives?