"This, then, is how you should pray:" 'Our Father in heaven,(Matthew 6:9-10).
hallowed be your name...' "
What does that mean?
And, what does it mean when we pray, "[H]allowed be your name"?
What are we praying for God to do? What is expected of us? How important is this in our lives today? Why do we need to say such a thing in our prayers?
"[H]allowed be your name," in the original language, is a request for God to consecrate his name and protect its holiness. The people of Israel in Jesus' time did not use the covenant name for God because of their deep respect for his holiness. They didn't want to misuse or abuse the name of the LORD. They probably pronounced the divine name something like Yahweh; we are not sure. The Hebrew spelling was without vowels (something akin to YHWH). God's people, Israel, have not spoken this divine name for hundreds and hundreds of years.
While this may seem strange to us, our world has lost almost all sense of holiness, reverence, and genuine awe. God's name, however, is holy and sacred. It must not be profaned. The name of God must not be made overly familiar or used flippantly. Indeed, no one should ever use God's name as a throwaway exclamation or a curse in coarse language. The third commandment of the Ten Commandments forbids misuse and abuse of God's name:
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Exodus 20:7).
God is holy. Holy is the only description used three times together to describe the nature, glory, and exaltedness of God. In Isaiah's vision, the angels at the throne of God cried out:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:3).
The LORD is other than we are. He is what we are not and cannot be. God is higher, stronger, and more glorious than we can begin to imagine. While we may talk about "Our Father in heaven," this is our human way of saying God is above us and beyond us. He is above time, existing in the past, present, and future simultaneously. He is both the beginning and the end, the great "I AM" — the God who is and was and is to come (Exodus 3:13-14; Revelation 1:8).
Our most profound thoughts about God can't begin to describe or comprehend his majesty or his magnificence. Not only is God creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1-31), he is also our creator who wove us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13-16). He is sinless and without fault. God is holy.
We have no right to approach God because of majesty, perfection, and power, yet as our "Abba Father, he has invited us to come to him as his children. We must not take this grace, this invitation, this tender relationship for granted.
While we approach God as his children, we also recognize that he is holy. We believe that our LORD is worthy of reverence, honor, awe, and praise. We acknowledge that even his name is holy, so we commit ourselves to honor and respect the glory due his name. We offer God our lives as a living sacrifice to him (Romans 12:1-2). Our mouths and our lips guard the way we speak his name. We want the reputation of the LORD's name upheld. We want our words to honor God in all we say. But more than just our behaviors and words praising God, we plead with God to work in our world to bring about reverence for his name. Our hearts yearn for the ways of God. We long for the person and name of God to be regarded as sacred in our world. We want the name of God, hallowed!
In this way, The Prayer reminds us that there is more to our world than what we can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. We confess that our hearts yearn for something more — for something beyond us that reorients us to our place in the universe, realigns us with each other as a people, and reminds us of the spiritual world that our souls know exists. So, when we pray, "[H]allowed be your name," we are crying out to God declaring that our hearts seek to know him, honor him, and revere him as God. When we say these words, we are longing for our world to awaken from its sleep to his divine and holy presence (Romans 1:19-22). We cry out together, as Jesus' followers and family, for God's holiness to make itself known in undeniable ways in our fallen world.
"[H]allowed be your name"!
Yes, dear Father, your children long for your holiness to be recognized by our irreverent world. Forgive us for chasing after your gifts but no longer looking in awe at you, the gracious Giver of every good gift. Please, O LORD, work in our world and use us to lead the way toward greater reverencing your holy name. Amen!
Making it Real: Special Thoughts and Spiritual Exercises for Each Day
with Andy Johnson and Phil Ware
Let's admit that the day-to-day routine of life can wear us down and strip the holy inclinations from our hearts. We become dull to the majesty of the God who welcomes us to prayer. The wear and tear of the daily grind beats us up and de-familiarizes us from the Almighty God who is holy and at work in his world. So, how do we remind our hearts and awaken our spirits that we pray to the holy God? How do we deepen our yearning for God and his name to be regarded as sacred and holy? How can we approach God reverently yet still as his children?
Christians who have come out of Islam have helped awaken some of us to the prayer postures used throughout the Old Testament. These postures are both childlike and yet respectful. For many of us, using these prayer postures has reawakened us to our place before a holy God while also approaching him with a childlike spirit. Below, you will find two simple videos to help you use these prayer postures used throughout Scripture to help us say The Prayer given to us by the Christ. One explains the motions and positions. The other is a simple reciting of The Prayer using the postures. We hope you will try these postures while saying The Prayer this week as one of your daily spiritual exercises. Our prayer is that it will help you reawaken both a childlike heart as you approach our Father and also a reminder of the greatness of our God and our need to show him reverence and honor.
Video of prayer with postures & explanation.
Video of prayer with postures — no explanation.
[NOTE] Andy Johnson has been a church planter in Burkina Faso and now works with Missions Resource Network blessing churches, international church leaders, and missionaries with a special focus on prayer. Andy is also a dear friend and someone whose prayer life I admire and try to emulate. Andy and his wife have three children. His language skills, his passion for authentic prayer, and his ministry to international church leaders through the men's Come Before Winter renewals have blessed many who love Jesus.