Pray Then Like This: Meditations on the Lord's Prayer part 3

How often do your prayers sound something like this? “Dear God. Give me stuff (whether it be food, life, forgiveness, healing, a job, a wife, help with exams etc). Amen.”

Prayer shows volumes about where our hearts lie. Such prayers as the one above show us to be thoroughly man-centred. Jesus gives a completely different orientation to help us get our values right.

The Lord’s Prayer consists of 6 petitions.

Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done 
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our debts
Lead us not into temptation 

The pattern is obvious. Jesus begins with three petitions primarily concerned with God (God’s name, kingdom and will). These reflect Jesus’ own values and priorities. He is absolutely God-centred, and wants His followers to be the same.

He begins with God’s name. ‘Hallowed be your name.’

To most of our ears, ‘hallow’ is a strange religious word. It is not part of everyday speech. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard it used outside of the Lord’s Prayer. If we are perfectly honest, most of us probably don’t have a clue as to what it means. I didn’t for many years. So what does it mean?

Hallow is the verbal form of holy. To be hallowed therefore means to be made holy. If we were to coin a new word, we might speak of holifying. ‘Holify your name.’

On the face of it, this request is strange. Why ask for God to make Himself holy? He is already perfectly holy.

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" (Isaiah 6:3)

I think we are to understand this request as asking God to make Himself be regarded as holy. As John Piper puts it, ‘It means that we are praying that his name be set apart in people’s hearts and minds and lives as the infinitely great and beautiful and valuable reality that it is.’ It is not asking God to improve His holiness, but to work in people’s hearts so that they may see, love, and understand His holiness. Hallowed be Your name is requesting that God would be glorified, loved, cherished, adored and treasured.

This first petition shows the centrality God is to have in our lives. Jesus teaches us to begin our prayers with the request for God’s name to be hallowed, because He wants God glorified to be our greatest desire, our top priority, our chief concern. It is clear from reading the gospels that this was modelled to us by Jesus Himself. We see it reflected in His actions and His prayer life.

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:4)
“Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28)

As Christians we talk a lot about being Christ-like. The WWJD phenomenon captures this. In trying to apply this question, we normally focus on actions without giving much thought to Jesus’ underlying motives and passions. We often forget that the heart of Christ-likeness is a passion for the glory of God.

If we are to pray and live aright, God and His glory must be our primary concern.

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13)

Pray Then Like This
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 

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