The Lord's Prayer - The First Petition
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Hallowed be your name.
What does this mean?
God's name is certainly Holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it Holy.
How is God's name kept Holy?
God's name is kept Holy when His Word is taught in its truth and purity, and we as children of God lead Holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches and lives contrary to God's Word dishonors God's name among us. Keep us from doing this, dear Father in heaven!
God’s name is indeed Holy. God’s name is and includes everything He reveals about Himself. The Lord God describes himself to Moses, recorded in Exodus 34: “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with Him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” God’s name describes His grace, love, and mercy, as well as His justice.
So the point in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is not that we somehow contribute to the holiness of God’s name. We cannot. The Lord commands us: “Be Holy, because I the Lord your God am Holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) But God’s law also reveals that we are not Holy, but sinners. When the Lord looks upon sinful man, He observes: “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3) It is the Lord that has made us Holy, by the blood of His Son, our Savior, shed in the cross. Peter speaks of this change in status that is ours through Christ: “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.” (1 Peter 2:9)
So when we pray “Hallowed be your name,” we are praying that we keep it Holy by faith in our Savior, by teaching and living according to His Word, and thus giving honor to the Lord in everything. This is truly something that we desire and so should pray for, that the Lord will continue to strengthen us through His Word, for faith and godly living among us, and that we and others learn from God’s Word how to live for Him.
Lord, enable us to keep your name Holy in all we think, say, and do. AMEN.