“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
One of our blessed privileges as God’s children is our ready access to our Father’s throne of grace. We may approach Him at any time of the day or night and be assured of an immediate audience. As such, we may take this privilege for granted and fail to revere our Father as the Lord God Sovereign. We may make light of God’s power, glory and majesty and come carelessly before Him.
Knowing our tendency to presumptuousness, our Saviour therefore placed this petition, “Hallowed be thy name” in the first section of the Lord’s Prayer – to stir us to awe, reverence, humility and faith as we contemplate some of God’s attributes.
“Hallowed be thy name”
We learnt from our previous study that Jesus began His lessons on prayer with these appropriate words: “After this manner therefore pray ye”. Following the order of the petitions, we note that the first request in the Lord’s Prayer – “Hallowed be thy name” – has reference to God’s honour and name. God’s name includes all that He is – His attributes, His perfections, His glory, His revelation and His works. To the ancient Jews, God’s name was so sacred that they would never pronounce it, but pass over it in reverent silence.
As His children, we are to approach God, our Heavenly Father, humbly and reverently by hallowing His name and dwelling on His attributes at the beginning of our prayers.
Contemplating God’s attributes
The Book of Jeremiah highlights a few specific divine attributes. God is to be feared because there is none like Him Who has all power and might: “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. 7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? For to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee” (10: 6-7). In verses 10 and 12, the prophet praised Him as the true, living, eternal, Almighty God and Creator of the world: “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation … He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion” (vv. 10, 12).
When using the phrase, “Hallowed be thy name”, let us also dwell on God’s holiness. The Old Testament provides many glimpses of God’s holiness and glory. In the incident of the burning bush, the Lord cautioned His servant Moses against approaching Him carelessly: “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3: 5). Moses “must keep his distance; draw near, but not too near; so near as to hear, but not so near as to pry. His conscience must be satisfied, but not his curiosity; and care must be taken that familiarity does not breed contempt” (Matthew Henry).
The psalmist called for God’s people to exalt Him “for the LORD our God is holy” (Ps. 99: 9). Three other passages in Psalms highlight this attribute of God, calling Him the “Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 71: 22; 78: 41; 89: 18).
Upon contemplating the holiness and majesty of God, Job was filled with a deep consciousness of his own sinfulness. He confessed humbly: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear. But now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42: 5-6). Isaiah felt the same way when he beheld the glorious vision of God in the temple. Deeply convicted of his own vileness, he felt unworthy to participate in the worship of such a holy God or to preach in His name: “And one (seraphim) cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isa. 6: 3-5). May we be convicted likewise as we meditate upon God’s glory and majesty. May we come humbly before Him to acknowledge our unworthiness and to give all glory to Him.
When we next pray, let us first direct our thoughts to God’s name, glory and attributes. Let us approach Him with a humble heart, to hallow His name and praise Him for His greatness and majesty. Like God’s servants of old, let us draw nigh to Him in awe and reverence, and see ourselves as unworthy sinners before Him. May we cultivate a more meaningful prayer life as we hallow the name of our Father in Heaven. (… to be continued).