04. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Hallowed Be Thy Name -2Prayer to God is the greatest and most noble activity of the human mind. To speak with God, to praise and honor Him and to ask Him to work within us, to empower us and to meet our needs, is the greatest of all privileges. And the Bible encourages us to pray.

In Luke 18:1 Jesus Christ said that we “always ought to pray and not lose heart.” In Luke 22:40 we are encouraged to “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” In James 5:16, the apostle wrote “pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.”

Prayer is designed to increase the fullness of our joy, to comfort our hearts and to make firm our faith. And above everything else prayer is designed to magnify and glorify God. Therefore, when our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, he said that God’s honor, God’s fame and God’s glory must be our chief concern.

In this manner, therefore, pray:  Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (Matthew 6:9)

In this model prayer there are six requests. The last three requests focus on us: “give us this day our daily bread,” “forgive us our debts,” and “do not lead us into temptation.” But the first three requests center on God Himself, and this is right. Before anything else our relationship with God must be right. Therefore the very first request to God is “Hallowed be Your name.”

When we read or say the words “Hallowed be Your name” we may think they simply express an existing truth, kind of like “Our Father in heaven, Your name is holy.” But that is not what Jesus Christ is teaching here. “Hallowed be Your name” is the first request and the foundation for all of life and all our prayers. Our first priority in prayer is that God is held in high esteem, first and foremost in our own hearts and then in the hearts of others.

Our first concern in prayer is that God is honored and glorified. We pray that His fame is spread world wide; that His name is revered. Each and every one of our prayers, no matter what they are, must be in harmony with this first request. Before we begin to pray for ourselves or for others, we should be concerned with God’s honor and glory; that He be feared, respected and held in high esteem. However my daily bread comes and my needs are met; however I am forgiven and I forgive others; however I am led, the end result must be the glory of God.

When we pray “Dear Father, hallow Your name, bring honor and glory to Your name” we are asking God to do something to reveal His power, love, justice, mercy and grace so that He is glorified and trusted and adored. The first thing that our Lord Jesus tells us to ask God to do, at the head of the list, the most supreme request is for us to ask God to so some work in the world, and to so work in us that His name is regarded as valuable and holy. I have often failed to pray like this. May God forgive me, but my eyes are now open.

Are we willing to pray for God’s name to be hallowed and honored and glorified, both in the world and in our own lives? Are we willing to so live that the burning passion of our hearts is for God, our Father, to be revered? This is God’s passion. He does all that He does for the honor and glory of His name. Why? The answer is so that people will trust in Him and hope in Him, because they have heard of His reputation. King David sang,

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:9, 10)

When the Scripture says that those who know God’s name will trust in Him, it does not mean simply that people know God’s name is Yahweh, like my name is Chuck. It means that they know the reputation and character His name represents. Let me show you an example of what I mean from 1 Samuel 12. The time period of the judges was over. Samuel is now the prophet, but the people are not looking to God as their leader and king. Thus there is chaos in the land; every one was doing what was right in his own eyes.[1]

So the people call for Samuel to anoint them a king. They want to be like the other nations around them. Samuel is furious over this and goes to God about it. And God told Samuel to give the people a king, but to warn them that they have done evil in rejecting God as their king. He is also to tell the people that their human king will eventually use them and dominate them. But then there is a word of hope from God as Samuel said,

Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD[2] will do before your eyes: 17 Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.” 18 So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.” 20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. (1 Samuel 12:16-22) [my emphasis in blue]

In spite of the people’s sin in wanting a king, God will not cast away His people. The reason given is for His own name’s sake! The deepest reason for God commitment to His people is His deep concern for His reputation. If God cast His people away and went back on His promises what would people think about Yahweh? How would others have the confidence to place their faith and hope in Him if Yahweh were seen as fickle and unfaithful?

Therefore the concrete foundation of the forgiveness of our sins, of our salvation, of our confidence that God will meet our daily needs and our hope for the future, is the commitment that God has made to protect the honor and value of His name. In other words, it is God’s will to join us to Himself in such a manner that what happens to us brings either dishonor or fame to His reputation and name. many times in the Bible we are told that God acts in order to declare His great name and reputation. For example,

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. 8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known. (Psalm 106:7, 8)

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.  (Psalm 25:11)

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.  (Isaiah 43:25)

And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. (Acts 15:13, 14) [my emphasis in blue above]

When God is merciful it is for the honor of His name. His name means something noble, holy, good and just. When God is kind and loving, even when he judges and condemns it is to declare and uphold who He is; that he is righteous and just. All that God does is for His reputation and the honor of His name. God is passionate about His glory. He is passionate that he is seen for who He really is. Are we as passionate about our Father’s name? In Isaiah 26:8 the prophet said, “The desire of our soul is for Your name.” In other words, God’s name and fame and renown is the desire of our hearts. Is His honor and glory our top priority? Jesus Christ said that it should be.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Are we willing to love others and serve others so that our Father in heaven is glorified? Are we willing to give financially and even sacrificially so that our Father in heaven in glorified? Are we willing to forgive, to lead, to encourage, to pray, to witness, to teach, to comfort, to confront so that the name of God is hallowed and respected and trusted?

Are we willing to love our spouse and our children so that God’s name is hallowed? Are we willing to honor our parents so that God’s name is hallowed? Are we willing to teach and to stand boldly on the truth that there is only one person who is God and not three persons who are God? Are we willing to boldly say there is no Trinity, there is only one true God and His fame and honor is paramount in our lives?

Are we willing to pray, “Our Father, help me to live in such a way that your name is made great in my life. May Your goodness and kindness and reputation be praised in the world by the way I live my life”? Our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to live this way—even to the point of death on a cross.

Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name. (John 12:27, 28)

When Jesus said “My soul is troubled” the Greek word translated “troubled”[3] is a very strong word meaning to have deep anxiety and even horror. Can you imagine facing crucifixion? But the passion of Christ’s heart was that God would be honored and glorified. And so he said, “But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name”!

My dear friends, for what purpose have we come to this hour? As we approach a new chapter in the work of this church, as we think about our own personal futures and the future of this church, is our first concern the honor of our Father? Do we pray for miracles and the salvation of others, and for power and the meeting of our needs solely so that we are comforted? Or is the rock bottom foundation of all our prayers “Hallowed be Your Name”?

Are we praying, “God work in our world so that You are glorified. Work in me so that people respect and trust in You”?  What can the world conclude about the value and honor and glory of God by the way we live and pray, by the priorities we set, by the sacrifices we are willing to make and by our desire to share the love of God and the Word of God with others?

It does not matter how easy or blessed our lives may be. It does not matter how stress filled and desperate our circumstances are. May the heart of all our prayers and all our actions be with this heart, “Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be Your name. Reveal your power, love, mercy and grace. Work in me both to will and to do for Your good pleasure so that Your name is hallowed and Your fame covers the world.”

[1] Judges 21:25

[2] When you read the word LORD in all capital letters in the Old Testament it is the English translation of God’s personal name Yahweh (or Jehovah). God revealed His name as Yahweh thousands of times and it is a shame that most readers of the Bible are unaware of this great truth.

[3] The Greek word is tarasso.