What Is “Hallowed Be Your Name”?



It has always been interesting that in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6; Luke 11) the first thing Jesus prays to the Father is the phrase, “hallowed be Your name.”

It Is How You Pray

Normally when we pray, after we say “Dear Father,” we usually begin asking Him for material or spiritual things (for us or for someone for whom we are praying). Or, if we are feeling particularly spiritual that day, we might start out by thanking God for what He has blessed us with…and then we ask for something for ourselves or for others.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with asking God for material and spiritual needs. In fact, Jesus does this in His model prayer (Luke 11:2-4). But this is not the first thing Jesus requests of God. The first petition He makes to the Father is “hallowed be Your name.”

Now, I bet you are thinking, “Why is Richard calling this a petition? It looks like Jesus is making a statement here.” Well, you are right. In the English, it sounds very much like a statement. But this is why doing word studies is so important. They might give you an insight that you would have never seen unless you looked at the original language. In the Greek, the word translated as “hallowed” is hagiastheto. Hagiastheto is an aorist passive imperative so the phrase “Hagiastheto to onoma sou” could be translated “Let Your name be kept holy (or set apart).”

Who keeps God’s name holy? Well, since Jesus is praying to the Father, this must mean that God keeps His own name holy. Thus, we see that Jesus is not foremost concerned with Himself or other humans when He begins his prayer, but is instead concerned with God keeping His own name Holy. The immediate application question for us is, “Is my foremost concern when I pray God’s name being kept holy or do I often jump right to my, or a loved one’s personal matters?”.

It is how you live.

The very term “Christian” implies that the ones whom refer to themselves in this way want to be identified with Christ. It is a great thing to be able to identify ourselves with Christ. In Christ we have forgiveness of sins, justification, sanctification, and ultimately eternal life. He represents us before God imputing His righteousness and holiness to us. This is awesome! We should be in awe that Christ is representing us.

But it is easy to forget that, as a “Christian” we also represent Christ to the world. This means that our actions reflect the character of whom we are representing. When we walk in holiness, we are representing a holy Lord to the world. But when we walk in sin, we are profaning the name of Christ as morally bankrupt. This is why Paul reminds the Corinthians that, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own…you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20).

The application question here is, “Is the first priority in my everyday life showing the world that God’s name is holy or am I only worried about my own reputation?” So as we pray that God would keep His name holy, also pray that God would grant us the will and the strength to walk in obedience to Him and thereby portray His holy name to the world. As a last exhortation, I will leave with the words of Paul,

“Whatever you do in word [prayer] or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col 3:17)

If you happen to know Richard you know that he lives with purpose! Richard has been around the Precept Ministries for years and has most recently served as one of our summer interns. Richard attends Lee University and hopes to someday be a college professor.

Essentials of Effective Prayer

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