“‘Hallowed be your name.’” – Matthew 6:9b
The Lord’s Prayer – First Petition
As we come boldly and confidently to our heavenly Father, Jesus teaches us to first pray, “Hallowed be your name.” “Hallow” is an old word for “holy”. We are praying that God’s name be holy. However, we can’t make God’s name holy any more than we can make water wet or the sun bright. In his explanation of this petition in the Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote, “God’s name is certainly holy by itself, but we pray in this petition that we too may keep it holy.”
God’s name is everything which he has revealed about himself in the Bible. We say the “Holy” Bible because it is the book that the holy God wrote by inspiration to tell us who he is and what he does for us. He reveals himself as the holy God. When Isaiah was granted a vision of heaven, he saw angels and heard them praising God with the song: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). The Triune God is the Holy One who is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.
The holy name of the Triune God is given to us in Baptism because we were baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By Baptism we bear the name of God as members of his spiritual family, and therefore, what we say and what we do reflects upon God’s name. Recently I saw a bumper sticker that may serve to illustrate this. The sticker stated, “My Child is a High School Honor Student.” Those parents were proud of the commendable actions of their child. Parents are honored when their children do well. In the same way, our God is honored when his spiritual children act and live according to his will. Conversely, a parent wouldn’t be likely to boast, “My child is on the warden’s good behavior list at the state prison.” Disreputable action of children dishonors their parents. Similarly, God’s children do not hallow God’s name when they live contrary to the Christian faith into which they have been brought by Baptism.
We keep God’s name holy among us when we use his Word correctly and live faithfully according to it. God is honored when we accept all of his Word as truth, not adding to it, subtracting from it or changing the meaning of the whole counsel of God. We hallow God’s name when we hear the Word and revere the Word, when we learn the Word and yearn for the Word. The name of God is kept holy among us when, guided by the Word, we live our lives to the glory of God.