The Lord’s Prayer – Hallowed be thy Name

This week will continue with our discussion of the Lord’s Prayer. After the introduction that we looked at last week, the Prayer is composed of six petitions. We will discuss the first two petitions this week – 1) Hallowed be thy name and 2) thy kingdom come.  

As we discussed last week, “heaven” refers not to a place that contains the Divine, but relates to the dignity and the essence of God as being the source of all existence – for in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) – so that as we come closer to God we exist more fully and become participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  These first two petitions in hallowing God’s name and for the coming of his kingdom speak to this intimate divine relationship. For this week please read Bailey chapter 8 and the first two pages of Bailey chapter 9.  I have also attached an excerpt from Hermann Witsius’s Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer.  pp105-208. Witsius was a 17th-century Dutch Calvinist theologian.  Although we won’t discuss Witsius’s work directly, he has the most complete discussion I have found of the Lord’s Prayer and particularly that first petition.

When we look at that first petition, three questions arise – 1) What are we to understand by God’s name?, 2) What is meant by Hallowing God’s name?, and 3) Why do we ask for God’s name to be hallowed?  The name of God denotes the full existence of God himself – the eternal, unchangeable, impassible, ineffable, omnipotent, source of all love, beauty, wisdom, and existence. The name of God is revealed to Moses as simply I AM. (Ex. 3:14).  Thereby, God’s name is the means by which God reveals himself to us.  And it is his name which God holds most dear – prohibiting its misuse (Ex. 20:7) and its vindication being the reason given for the Babylonian Exile (Ezek. 36:21).  It is God’s name which is profaned when Christians act badly.

The hollowing of God’s name can be seen as either an internal action worked within the soul of the believer or an external action taken by us.  In St. Cyprian’s commentary, he points out that “Hallowed” simply means “to make holy.”  The word translated as “Hallowed” in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as “sanctification.”  In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul uses the same Greek word that appears in Matthew’s gospel: “Do you not know wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God . . . and this is what you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified (hallowed), you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God”.  Therefore, to pray that God’s name be hollowed is to pray that we obtain that perfection in Christ when we have been cleansed of our sins. It is a continuous prayer.

Alternatively, as Witsius writes, to hollow God’s name is to recognize God’s holiness and to continuously praise him as set forth in Psalm 148.  Our hollowing is not an internal sanctification, but the awe that we should have when we stand within his presence. This is our most sacred duty.

Finally, why do we ask for God’s name to be hallowed, for what can we add to God’s holiness?  In his commentary, John Wesley writes that this is our prayer “so that we may be made capable of knowing and loving him.”  Or as Witsius states, by asking God’s name to be Hallowed we ask that he “enlighten the eyes of our understanding . . . move our hearts . . . excite our tongue to praise . . . [and] regulate our whole life to promote his glory.” As Tertullian points out this petition does not say let his name be hallowed only in us.  For just as we are to pray for everyone, even our enemies (Matt 5:44), so within this petition, we also pray that God’s name be hallowed in all people not just those in Christ.

Dinner is at 6.  The menu is pork tenderloin. Discussion about 6:45.  Bring a friend. Hope to see you here.

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I  AM” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.’”

Exodus 3:13-15

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