The Lord’s Prayer: Hallowed Be Your Name Luke 11:1-4
2/24/2019 8:21:08 PM
February 24, 2019
Rev. David Williams
Scripture: Luke 11:1-4
What’s in a name? Are you named after anyone or anything? Megan has a book about a little mouse named Chrysanthemum. At the beginning of the book, she loves her name. But at school, kids make fun of her name. Then the teacher reveals that her name is also the name of a flower and that she’s going to name her own baby after a flower. Then Chrysanthemum likes her name again!
People choose names for their kids for a variety of reasons. My name is David Brainerd Williams. I’m named after a famous pioneer missionary from the mid-1700s who brought the Gospel to Native Americans. His diaries were published posthumously by Jonathan Edwards and were a strong influence in the missionary movement of the 1800s. My Dad also read the diaries and was deeply moved by them. Hence my name is David Brainerd Williams!
Amy and I chose to name our daughter Megan Maureen Williams. Meg is Amy’s favourite character from the book “Little Women” and her aunt, a delightful Christian woman who never had kids of her own, but had a strong influence on Amy, is Maureen.
I had neighbours ten years ago who had a little baby boy. They named him Elijah. I said, “Oh, like in the Bible!” They said, “In the Bible?!?” I wondered who would name their kid Elijah if it wasn’t a Biblical reference. Then I realized Elijah Wood was the star of the Lord of the Rings movies! I guess Elijah is a better name than Frodo!
Some people name their children after famous people, or figures from literature, or people in their family. We often name our children after people whom we admire. In Scripture, a name represents an individual’s character. This explains some of the name changes, like Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, etc. More importantly, to honour someone’s name, or dishonour someone’s name means to honour or dishonour their reputation. To dishonour someone’s name means to impugn their character. This sheds light on gathering or praying “in Jesus’ name.” It means gathering or praying in keeping with Jesus’ character!
We’re working through a series on the Lord’s Prayer. We’ve looked at the context in both Matthew and Luke in which Jesus is teaching people how to pray. Last week we examined to whom our prayers should be addressed- to God our Father and what that means! Remember, God is the father you wish your father was! There’s an intimacy and affection in praying to our Father. That our Father is in Heaven elevates us, raises us up, gives us a promotion!
Today we are looking at the first request in the prayer, “Hallowed be your name.” Let’s take a look at Luke.
What It Says
So what does this passage say? We’re going to zero in on the first petition, or first request in the prayer, “Hallowed be your name.” In this petition, we need to examine two words: hallowed and name. What in the world does it mean to hallow something?!? That’s not a word we use very much, is it?
To “hallow” something means to set it apart as special, literally as “holy.” That’s what the word “holy” means- set apart as special. It comes from Greek “hagios.” in Latin, it’s where we get “saint” and “sanctify.” God’s holy people are the people God has set aside as special. In the OT, the utensils used in the Tabernacle/Temple were set apart for special use- they were holy!
Today, we think spatially. We think putting something to the side is to make is less important or “marginalized”. So maybe it’s better for us to think in terms of holy as being set above other things, made central.
God’s name represents his character and reputation. To know God’s name means to know God as he is, not just as he is thought to be. [Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew Vol. 1; p. 241] God’s name represents his true
self, his true identity. To ask God to hallow his name, then, means “Make yourself central to us, your church and your world.” [Bruner, p. 241]
To hallow God’s name means to approach God recognizing that he is unique and set apart, that there is none like him in power and authority. This requires humility on the part of the one praying. The request is that God would reveal himself and be at work in the world so that all people would recognize God’s character and honour it in response.
In Matthew, “on earth as it is in heaven” refers to all 3 requests. Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done – all 3 on earth as in heaven! We pray, then, “Let your name, your character and reputation be held as central and be honoured on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus teaches his followers to begin their prayer by approaching their heavenly Dad, and that their first request be that his character be known and honoured on earth the way it is currently being known and honoured in heaven.
What It Means
So what does all this mean? How does this help us in our prayer life? How does it help us in our relationship with God?
I want to step back and look at the prayer as a whole for a moment. We just mentioned that Matthew’s phrase “on earth as it is in heaven” refers to all 3 of the first petitions or requests. I want to look at the overall structure of the prayer again. The Lord’s prayer forms a handrail for our prayers. The first 3 petitions take an “eagle’s eye view” of the world. [Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, p. 104] They focus on big, global requests about God’s work on earth. The second 3 requests focus on the here and now world of the worshipper who is praying: daily bread, forgiveness and freedom from evil. The first 3 requests are “you” focussed- your name, your kingdom, your will. The second 3 requests are “us” focussed- give us, forgive us, lead us.
All the following requests describe ways in which God’s name would be hallowed or honoured. When God’s character is revealed and then honoured, his authority is recognized which means his kingdom comes on earth! When God’s character is revealed and his name is honoured, people then do his will! When God provides for his people’s physical needs, his character is revealed and people honour his name. When God leads us (and we follow) away from temptation and he delivers his people from evil, his name is hallowed.
God’s name is most revealed in the forgiveness of sin. God’s character is most clearly revealed in Jesus. In Jesus we see God most clearly. If we know Jesus, we know God (John 14:7-9). God’s character is agape love, which is most clearly demonstrated in the fact that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us! When we exercise Christ-like forgiveness, God’s character is revealed in us and the world glorifies/honours God’s character as demonstrated in us!
The OT lays the foundation for this idea. In Ezekiel Chapters 20 and 36, God describes how he will save Israel not for their sake but for his name’s sake. Ez 20 describes how God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt and Israel didn’t give up Egyptian idolatry, but God continued to rescue them, for his name’s sake among the nations. Israel has dishonoured (profaned- the opposite of hallowed) God’s name among the nations for generations. How? By their incredibly sinful behaviour! In Ez 36 God predicts the Babylonian Exile, but promises that (again) for his name’s sake he will rescue Israel and bring them back to Jerusalem after a time.
God’s special (holy) people are to reflect God’s special (holy) character to the world that does not know God. In the OT, this was Israel. Since the resurrection, this is the church- Christians! When God’s people live up to this responsibility, his name is hallowed, respected, made central in the world. When God’s people fail to reflect godly character themselves, they profane, or dishonour, God’s character and God’s name is dishonoured in the world. God saves his people, forgives their sin and delivers them from evil, not because they deserve it, but because it demonstrates God’s character to the world.
When we pray for God’s name to be hallowed, we are asking that it begin with us! We are asking that we would make God central in our lives, that we would know and honour God’s character, and that we would then reflect that character in our behaviour for others to see so that they, too, will make God central in their lives, see God’s character at work in us and honour him for it! We are asking that we would honour God’s character in our lives on earth as it is being honoured in heaven.
We do this because we love our adopted, perfect Dad whom we have come to in prayer. Jesus instructs his
followers to pray, “Dad in heaven, let your name and character be honoured as of central importance on earth as it is in heaven.” Then we continue with some specific ways in which God can hallow his name: by his kingdom coming, his will being done, providing for his people their daily needs, forgiving them and them forgiving one another, delivering his people from temptation and evil.
What are we to do with this? As I said, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a handrail to our own prayers. It can be prayed word for word if prayed with sincerity and understanding. It can also be used as a model, a structure, a handrail for our own prayers. What does it teach us then? How does it, as a handrail, support and guide for our prayers?
Our Father in heaven teaches us who we are coming to in prayer and what our attitude should be in approaching him. “Hallowed be your name” teaches us that God’s name being made central in our lives and in the world is the primary concern of our prayers. This is radically different from most of the prayers we hear these days! We rarely start with God’s honour as our primary concern. Sometimes we want God to do things “out there” in the world in terms of his name, his kingdom and his will, but rarely do we base our prayers on God doing something in us!
Jesus teaches his followers to begin their prayers by reorienting their hearts towards God. This is very similar to repentance! If, as we say, repentance is adjusting our life trajectory to be headed straight toward God, then beginning our prayers to our loving Dad with “hallowed be your name” is a form of repentance. It’s basing our prayers on asking God to reveal his character to us and the world and then to cause his character to be honoured and made central in us and in the world.
In heaven, we will no longer need daily bread, forgiveness of sin or deliverance from evil. We will still honour God’s name. [Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer, p. 38] So this is an eternal prayer request! This is heaven practice!
In contrast to heaven, though, God’s name is not hallowed or honoured on earth. And, when we’re honest, it’s often not hallowed in our own lives.
Each petition involves both an act of God and the implied cooperation of his people. We are not in Heaven yet. While still on earth we are Jesus’ hands and feet. So when God hallows his name, it expects us to cooperate and demonstrate that to the world. He expects us to honour his kingdom authority and obey his will. We are expected to participate in providing daily bread, to offering forgiveness, to warning people about temptation and helping rescue them from evil.
Conversely, what happens when Christians don’t do these things? God’s name is most dishonoured when his people live contrary to his character. The Lord’s Prayer, when we engage it with our mind, is an invitation to examine our lives and consider where we may not be hallowing his name!
Let me ask you, where are you honouring God’s name in your life? Do you honour God at work? At school? At home? With your family? With your friends? Online? When you’re shopping? When you’re driving? Where do you need to reorient your heart so that you start hallowing his name?
You carry the “label” of Christian. Do you carry the “name” of Christian in your character? Let’s humbly approach our perfect Dad and, in repentance, ask him to begin in us the work he would do through us in the world. Please bow with me in prayer!
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,Your kingdom come,Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. In Jesus name, amen!
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