Matthew 6 v 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven
In our contemplation of the Disciples prayer in Matthew 6 we have seen that this is a pattern prayer and it should direct us in our efforts to pray as we should.
We have noticed that we address God as Father, a precious and intimate name which can only be used by true children.
And thirdly we have noticed where God the Father is – in heaven – the place where He lives and the place where we, if we believe, will one day go – to be with Him.
We can say that these opening phrases have been the means of ADDRESSING God – of beginning to approach Him in his regal presence.
All prayer should begin with an address. We should never come with petitions and supplications tumbling out of our mouths as soon as we approach our God – there must be a reverent and submissive attitude of heart and mind before we launch into what we want. To a much lesser extent this is true of our communications with each other. It is very rude to launch into a request or comment to someone without a customary compliment or opening remark. It is usually children who habitually launch into, “Mum can I have an ice cream please?” as they burst in the door. Wise mothers will pause and ensure that the child greets those in the house first – it is only polite. How much more should we who are God’s children know the proper orderly way to approach the King of kings, who also is our Father in heaven!
This morning we come to what is generally known as the FIRST PETITION –
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Initial considerations make this phrase to appear not as a petition but as a statement – that God’s name is Holy. That is true – our mighty God’s Name is most Holy – but the verb form in this phrase is imperative passive – the petitioner’s desire is that God’s name must be hallowed, should be hallowed, let it be hallowed.
There is only one of God’s attributes that is repeated three times in succession in scripture – Isaiah 6 v 3 – Holy, Holy, Holy! You may recall Isaiah’s experience –
1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
It also appears in Revelation 4 v 8
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
God’s holiness is the most central truth that we know about Him.
Arthur Pink says this –
“The fundamental duty of prayer is here set forth. Self and all of its needs must be given a secondary place, and the Lord freely accorded the pre-eminence in our thoughts and supplications. This petition must take the precedence, for the glory of God’s great name is the ultimate end of all things.” (Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer – Baker)
First let us notice what the word HALLOWED means.
This word that only appears twice in this English form in the New Testament is a translation of the verb HAGIADZOH which is usually rendered SANCTIFY. Indeed the same Greek word is found on 26 other occasions rendered sanctify – for example – the Lord’s words in
John 17 v 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 17 v 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Hallow means “to make holy or set apart – to make a person or thing the opposite of common.” Hallow comes from the Old English HALGIAN from the root HALIG – holy. To hallow is to set apart for sacred use. So what does it mean to HALLOW THE NAME of God?
It refers to the properly pious desire in the heart of the one who is praying, that God’s matchless name might be reverenced, adored and glorified. That same heart desires that God might cause His name to be held in the utmost respect and honour, and that its fame might spread abroad and be magnified – made greater. (Adapted from Arthur Pink ibid p84)
Now we need to understand that there is no way that we mere mortals can make God more glorious than He is! Neither can we make His name greater than it is – the meaning of the word magnified.
Nevertheless this is what the Lord Jesus Christ has instructed us to do when we pray HALLOWED BE THY NAME.
So we need to know HOW we are to Hallow God’s name every time that we pray. We can say the words HALLOWED BE THY NAME – but will we really mean them? This question is the one to be addressed this morning so that we can utter these words and the prayers that flow from this pattern that the Lord Jesus has given us, in all honesty.
1. The Desire of the Petition.
Let us focus first on the exact purpose of this phrase HALLOWED BE THY NAME. The Lord Jesus Christ directs us to have a desire in this phrase – and indeed in each of the first three petitions –
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Holy Lord God, I want thy name to be hallowed – let it be hallowed – may it be hallowed.
Holy Lord God, King of the Universe, I want thy Kingdom to come – let it come – may it come.
Holy Lord God, whose will is Sovereign, I want thy will to be done here as in heaven thy dwelling place – let it be done – may it be done.
Can you sense the desire of the petitioner here – the first thing that the praying saint prays for is GOD’S GLORY and His Name to be powerfully lifted up and magnified in creation – to be hallowed.
Let it be hallowed – is the desire of the humble creature. “Let it be” is a desire statement. This is what we are to pray in our prayers. This brings us into the right attitude and frame of mind before the thrice holy God.
The angels sang the same at the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ
Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
They were saying Glory be to God in the Highest – let God be glorified.
Three texts from three authors Paul, Jude and John bring the same sense of desire for God’s glory -
Romans 16 v 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Jude 1 v 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1 v 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
It is not only in the New Testament that we find this desire that God’s Name and His person be hallowed – we read earlier from 2 Samuel 7 in which King David was told that David’s son Solomon would build a temple which would become symbolic of God’s dwelling place amongst His people. Then David prayed to the Lord God and these were some of his words –
2 Samuel 7 v 25 And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said. 26 And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
More of David’s words in Psalm 96 v 8
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. 9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
It appears from these scriptures that every true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ must have the glorifying of God for his DEEPEST desire. This first petition puts the priority on every true believer to seek that God’s name be hallowed.
What is in a name? What is so special about any name? Even though there exists a Penguin Book of Names that prospective parents can use to help them decide on a name for an expected infant in the family, we in our culture, do not attach the same significance to the names that we have as other nations do. In the Old Testament days names were much more significant. The Hebrews did not name their children because their names would remind them of Auntie Agatha or Uncle Henry. Parents chose names for their children in the hope that the name would embody the personality, characteristics, or character that they hoped would develop in their child.
The early American Puritans gave their daughters names like Fear, Silence, Charity, Hope, Love and Patience, hoping that these daughters would live up to their names as they grew. Sometimes a man’s name would change to reflect a crisis that had been encountered and a new beginning had commenced. We can think of Simon whose name the Lord changed to Peter, and the man Saul who changed his name to Paul after his wonderful conversion.
Psalm 9 says in v 10
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee:
The psalmist was not claiming that those who pronounce or simply state God’s name would trust in Him. Rather he means that those who knew God’s character and power would put their trust in Him.
The desire to say God’s name, with the words “Hallowed be Thy Name” encompasses all of God’s nature and all of our response to His nature.
Psalm 7 v 17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
This leads us to be reminded of the many names of God. When we pray Hallowed be thy name we are caused to reflect on ALL the names of God – because each of them express a different aspect of His Holy nature. In Genesis He is called ELOHIM – “the creator God.” Later in the same book he is EL ELYON – “the possessor of heaven and earth.” The Old Testament also calls Him –
Jehovah – Jireh – the Lord will provide Jehovah – Nissi – the Lord our banner Jehovah – Rapha – the Lord that healeth Jehovah – Shalom – the Lord our peace Jehovah – Raah – the Lord our Shepherd Jehovah – Tsidkenu – the Lord our righteousness Jehovah – Sabaoth – the Lord of Hosts Jehovah – Shammah – the Lord who is near Jehovah – Maqodeshkim – the Lord who sanctifies.
The eternal nature of the Lord God means that there is no limit to His attributes or of the names that reflect His attributes – these are just some of those we know and that are recorded in scripture.
The greatest name by which God has ever been designated in history is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – which, as you know, means Master, Saviour and anointed King. If we had time we could reflect on the Lord Jesus’ names in the New Testament – such as The Living Water, Bread of Life, Good Shepherd, the Way, the truth and the Life. He is the wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting father, Prince of Peace.
And then there is that name that moves our hearts when we think about it – Man of sorrows, what a name, for the son of God who came ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah! What a saviour! And what a name for a wonderful saviour.
My friend – can you say with all of your heart HALLOWED BE THY NAME? I have prayed this prayer and uttered these words – and I have not meant them! Before I was converted these words were on my lips – but the truth of them was not in my heart. I had no appreciation of the holy greatness of God. If I had, I would have recognised how different I was to Him the thrice holy God in that I was a sinner, breaking His law. Can you see the awesome majesty of the person and character of God and what you are desiring when you say HALLOWED BE THY NAME? People who do not know the living God cannot want His name to be magnified – they are far too busy with magnifying other things. Yet all human beings worship something – whether it be a person, an occupation, a possession or even themselves. What is it that we HALLOW in our lives? What are those holy things that we would fear to lose? Who are those sanctified people that would cause us grief to part with? The Lord Jesus says “Let God’s Name be hallowed – let His name be the highest name – let it be magnified and made known to all – and let me bow down and worship the One whose name is above every name!” Do we do this my friend?
There are thousands around us who cannot say “Hallowed be Thy name.” They do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was infallible and they do not accept the truthfulness of His words. They pour scorn on the scriptures by ignoring it as a significant book that is God’s word to His creatures. They refuse to hallow God’s name. Indeed there are many who would sinfully wish to do the opposite and NOT see the name of God hallowed. Their prayer would include a desire to see God’s name and attributes not hallowed. They would wish to erase God’s name altogether. These are fit for judgement – unless the Lord opens their eyes to His glory and greatness, His love and compassion – then by the Holy Spirit they will be given a true desire to say Hallowed be thy name.
But now let’s ask another question –
Why should we desire God’s name to be hallowed and magnified?
The answer surely is - in order to advance the revealed glory of God on earth. This is the meaning of the statement “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This is what we are here for – and we do it by the way that we live through our life of prayer. This is the Desire of the Petition.
2. The Design of the Petition.
Practically we need to know how to hallow God’s name. The first part of the design is from God Himself -
1. God is hallowed as He makes Himself known by His word.
He discloses Himself to us His creatures through the Scriptures, the ordinances, His works and His Providence. All of these four are Hallowed – they are to be Holy – thus we have the Holy Bible, Holy Ordinances, Holy Works and Holy providence. We can see then that God Himself procures His own glory among men – which is why we pray Hallowed be thy name. In Ezekiel 38 v 23 God says this –
23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
When we hallow God’s name we recognize His majesty and glory and then submit to His majesty and glory.
2.We hallow God’s Name when we know what kind of God He is.
We have said much about God and His attributes already – how much do we know them? Do we meditate on them and marvel at the great God that He is? We often think that swearing is the only way that we can take God’s name in vain. But there is more to it than that – every time that we think a thought about God that is not true, every time that we doubt God or disbelieve Him, or even question him, then we take His name in vain. We need to set out on a quest – to know God. He is a God who should be feared and given awesome respect. We should not be satisfied with a mere surface knowledge of the Lord God – but we should seek to know Him better and better every day that goes by. To know Him is truly to fear Him. We should realise how great He is. How can this happen? Let us notice an example or two from the New Testament. In Mark 4 the disciples were much afraid during a storm. But Mark records their reaction AFTER the Lord Jesus Christ calmed the storm -
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
They came to recognize the presence and power of God in the Lord Jesus Christ – and the fear or sense of awe was greater than the fear that the storm brought.
There were opposers to the Lord’s preaching and ministry in Gadara after he had cast the demons out of Legion. They feared His holy power so much that they begged him to leave their district –
Mark 5 v 17 And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.
It may be that we do not fear God because we have not witnessed His holiness and power working in our lives. Well may He so move amongst us that we will truly be in awe of this holy and mighty God. We should know what kind of God He is.
3. We hallow God’s Name when we believe that He exists.
Hebrews 11 v 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,
Have you ever noticed that the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God? The reason is because God is self-evident. Our job is to believe this and thereby hallow His name. Look up at the sky at night when there are no clouds and say there is no God! The shear awesomeness of the heavens leads anyone to question where did all that come from? An astronomer once said, “No astronomer could ever be an atheist. The heavens drive us to God.”
4. We Hallow God’s name when we live a life of obedience to His holy laws.
As children we honour our parents most when we obey them.
Psalm 40 v 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
In prayer we bow our knees, fold our hands and shut our eyes. But is this all? No – we hallow God’s Name by “offering golden obedience to Him”, as Thomas Watson put it. Abraham honoured God by his obedience – in Genesis 22 we read of Him offering up Isaac on an altar – and then the Lord God said these words to him –
16 By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee.
Martin Luther said, “We hallow God’s name when both our doctrines and our living are truly Christian.” Disbelieving and disobedient Christians are not able to truly hallow the Name of God while they are in that state. We are to do all to the glory of God – I Corinthians 10 v 31.
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
We do not glorify God when we sin or doubt His word.
5. We Hallow God’s name when we are constantly aware of His presence.
Psalm 16 v 8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Most of our thoughts about God are inconsistent. Sometimes we think about Him a lot – other times we hardly think about Him at all. To really hallow His name is to draw conscious thoughts of God into OUR thoughts, words and actions. How much do we set the Lord before us friends? Do we compartmentalise God into a few hours on the Lord’s Day, occasionally midweek? Let us learn how to know the Lord’s presence moment by moment.
6. We Hallow God’s name when we meet together as a Church.
When we meet together for worship and the ordinances we profess His name. Right now we are doing God honour by meeting in His name. We are here because we want to honour our Lord. We are not here merely for fellowship or instruction in the word of God – but we are assembled to glorify God and magnify His name – that is what we are about. We hallow His name in our conversation as Christians – holy, Bible Conversation honours the Lord. We hallow His name when we remember His death in the Lord’s Supper week by week. We hallow His name when we offer holy and spiritual worship.
Leviticus 10 v 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.
This is why our worship should be wholehearted and Bible based – it will honour the Lord God when we do.
7. We Hallow God’s name when we love His name.
Psalm 5 v 11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
We must reserve our BEST love for God. A wife or a husband will give their best love to each other – and rightly so – in like manner such a discriminating love must be reserved for the Lord God first before anyone else. A wife must love God first before her husband and a husband must do the same. We give God the kind of love that we give to no other being – our special love. In this we hallow His name.
These are but a few of the ways that we can hallow the name of our sovereign Lord God.
O may we all know how to hallow – how to glorify, how to magnify the wonderful Name of our God and saviour the Lord Jesus Christ – that our business may be making Him known, being loyal to Him, having the interests of His kingdom as our priority, and doing nothing that would dishonour our mighty Saviour – to whom we bring this petition – Hallowed be thy name.