Hallowed be your name.
What does this third phrase in the Lord’s prayer mean?
Different versions translate it in different ways, ‘hallowed be your name,’ (KJV, New International Version, English Standard Version), ‘may your name be kept holy,’ (New Living Translation), ‘Your name be honoured as holy,’ (Holman Christian Standard Bible), ‘Uphold the holiness of Your name,’ Common English Bible, and ‘Help us to honour Your name…’ (Contemporary English Version).
Two things are for sure, it is the first request in the prayer, and the second is that it has to do with God’s name.
In a world where we frequently think of ourselves first Jesus calls us to think of God’s name, and to pray with regard to it. We start with God and not ourselves. In a put me first world that’s a challenge, but a right and necessary one. We were made by God and for God. He’s the One who ‘calls the shots’ as they say and not us.
When we lose sight of God’s name we are in trouble. Why? Because we have lost sight of God himself. Names in Bible times were more than identifier tags, they spoke of the nature and character of the person they were attached to. So also God. It would take a study on it’s own to develop this, but here simply to note the point.
In a world that has rebelled against God and made gods in it’s own image and to it’s own liking, Jesus calls us to pray regarding the name of God, that it be hallowed, or as one writer has put it ‘holified.’
Now holiness is not something that is generally affirmed in the world in which we live, it is seen as ‘puritan’, belonging to a bygone era, an era that seemed endlessly proscriptive in it’s out-lawing of all sorts of things in relation to life. Today as things become more and more prescriptive, holiness begins to look as if it’s past it’s sell by date.
Let’s be frank, holiness has never been in in a fallen world, profanity has – I remember hearing a speaker a number of years ago talking about a certain part of the media and how its aim was to go for any thing holy, or sacred, and make it otherwise (to paraphrase him). It seemed a wild statement then, but it would seem he has been proven to be right, as no area seems to be off limits.
That’s every reason to pray, to start here, it’s God’s world, not ours, and it begins with the recognition of God’s holiness, for concern for how he is viewed, how he is perceived in this world.
The devil from the very beginning in the garden of Eden sought to malign the name of God and Adam and Eve fell for it, and so it has been the nature of humanity to align itself with demons in maligning that name down to the present day.
But Jesus calls us in this prayer to stand against it, to counteract it as God’s people and pray for the honouring, the hallowing, the holifying of God’s name. That God may be known for who he really is and not as the devil and his minions would slanderously portray him to be.
Another thing. The danger in not praying or starting here is to reduce ‘our Father’ to that of a compromising and indifferent being, as Someone who is on our side, and does whatever we want him to do, and gives us whatever we want – one not much different to ourselves.
Lastly the prayer challenges the way we are representing God to the world in which we live. It’s a prayer that our lives might truly reflect the one we believe in and proclaim. Holiness has everything to do with life, life has God intended, life lived in delightful submission to Him. Not stuffy, religious, pious, but righteousness/justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.