Hallowed Be Your Name

Why do you have the name you do? As Jesus teaches you to pray in Matthew 6:9 he focuses on the name of God.

God makes himself known to you through his name. The names of God are important. This was true of people; Abram/Abraham (father of a multitude), Sarai/Sarah (Princess), Jacob/Israel (prince of God), Simon/Peter (rock). Phineas’ wife named their son Ichabod (the glory is departed). God’s name is not merely a vocable, but stands for God himself. “O, my God” may be appropriate as part of a prayer, but used as an exclamation it opposes what Jesus is teaching you here. “To honor Go’s name is to honor God himself. Thus, true prayer is God-centered. Prayer can help us center; it helps us meditate on spiritual matters. But prayer is not the same as centering or meditating. Prayer brings us to God, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the sovereign Lord.” (Daniel M. Doriani, Matthew, p. 241)

Listen to the names of God. ‘El (God) views God as the Mighty One. ‘El-Shaddai is God Almighty, Genesis 17:1. ‘Elohim is a plural, and refers to God in the fullness of his power, one of the most commonly used names for God in the Old Testament. ‘Elyon is the Most High, Genesis 14:19. ‘Adonai,or Lord, addresses God as Master. When the New Testament uses “Lord” of Jesus the Christ, it confesses that he his truly God. Jehovah or JHWH is God’s special, covenant name. The name means, “I am who I Am,” Exodus 3:14, and is often indicated by Lord. The name stresses God’s unchangeable covenant faithfulness to his people, Malachi 3:6. This name is used in combinations: “JHWH of Hosts,” Psalm 46:7; “JHWH Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6; “JHWH will Provide,” Genesis 22:14; “JHWH my Banner,” Exodus 17:15; “JHWH Heals You,” Exodus 15:26, “JHWH Is Peace,” Judges 6:24; and “JHWH is my Shepherd,” Psalm 23:1. “Father” reveals God’s loving character. Israel was God’s son, Hosea 11:1. The new Testament speaks of God as the Father of Jesus Christ, and as your Father, as you trust in him. Though the Father is addressed here, the other persons of the Trinity are not to be excluded from the reverence required.

Hold God’s name in reverence. Honor God. Moses had to remove his sandals at the burning bush, because the very ground of the place where God was revealing himself was holy. Isaiah 6 gives you a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. The serahphim, angelic throne attendants, are doing what they were created to do—ascribe holiness to the Creator. Similarly, when John is taken through a door into heaven, he shows you a similar picture. God is perfectly holy. We cannot make him more so. But he delights in his creatures ascribing holiness to him. “When you come to God, says our Lord, in effect, even though you may be in desperate conditions and circumstances, it may be with some great concern on your mind and in your heart; even then, He says, stop fora moment and just recollect and realize this, that your greatest desire of all should be that this wonderful God, who has become your Father in and through Me, should be honoured, should be worshipped, should be magnified amongst the people ‘Hallowed be thy name.’” (Martin Lloyd Jones, The Sermon on the Mount, Vol. 2, p. 61)

Live as someone who has God’s name. Come to God with sincerity and reverence. This prayer requires more than lip service to a name. Many are known by the name “Christian,” but their lives deny it. This prayer requires more than an intellectual knowledge of God’s various names. The prayer is inclusive. It means that you do not take God’s name in vain. That is increasingly important in the profane world in which we live. Praise and glorify God. You need humility of spirit and gratitude of heart. (Remember who is it you are approaching!) Carefully study God’s revelation of himself in his Word, and learn all you can of his majesty from the creation. Recognize his love in the protection, care, and provision he provides you—and even in his wrath against his and your enemies. Praise him for blotting out the transgression of his people.

Let everyone praise the Lord. When you pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, you call the entire creation to glorify God. Honor God’s name as you enjoy the majesty of his creation around you. (How can Oregon and Washington have such low church attendance figures?!?) Glorify God as you ponder the unmeasurable depths of God’s love in choosing you and in sending his own Son for you, Romans 11:33ff. Notice how the hymns of Revelation 4 merge into those of Revelation 5. The true holiness of God is seen, not only in contrast to your sin, but is revealed even more as this infinitely holy God redeems you and makes you his child. “In redemption God opens up himself to us and surrenders his inner life to our possession in a wholly unprecedented manner of which the religion of nature can have neither dream nor anticipation. It is more clearly in saving us than in creating us that God shows himself God. To taste and feel the riches of his Godhead, as freely given unto us, one must have passed not only through the abjectness and and poverty and despair of sin but through the overwhelming experience of salvation. The song of Moses and of the Lamb has in it a deeper exultation than that which the sons of God and the morning stars sang together for joy in the Creator.” (Geerhardus Vos, “The Wonderful Tree,” in Grace and Glory, p. 6) How can you hallow God’s name this week? Have zero tolerance for anything that profanes God’s name. Speak to an unbelieving neighbor or friend, telling him who God is and what he has done in Jesus Christ. Sing God’s praises with his people. Structure your life so that honor and praise, not shame, comes to God’s name this week.

Christ wants you to pray the Lord’s prayer—and then to live this week in a way that will make his Father’s name holy.

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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