The “Lord’s Prayer” is a sample of the kind of prayer that pleases the Lord – the kind of prayer that we, as His disciples, ought to pray. This prayer is what our prayers should look like. Not that we should simply regurgitate this prayer daily, but it should be a guide for us in praying in a God-pleasing way.

With that in mind, look at the first request in the prayer: “Hallowed be thy name.” This shows us that God’s name is worthy of being hallowed.

We’ll look at what hallowing means in a minute, but first we need to see why it is that it is God’s name that is hallowed.

1. What is God’s name?

What do we mean by the phrase “God’s name”? God’s name is about more than what we call Him. Generally speaking, our names don’t tell a lot about us. They may tell what ethnicity we are, or they may reveal someone in history or in our family who was loved and who we are named after; but one thing they don’t reveal is our character.

But in the Bible names are far more important. The name “Jacob” came to refer to Jacob’s deceptive nature; his name was changed to “Israel” – “prince with God” – to reflect his success in wrestling with God.

And God’s name refers to His person: “I AM” means that He exists independent of any external source, and that He always was, is, and always will be. His name refers to His character. “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” is His covenant name, His name of promised faithfulness to His people. And His name refers to His authority. He is “Lord” – He is the Ruler, the King, the Judge of the universe before whom the wise bow in worship and submission.

His name, then, refers to all that God is. And this name – who God is – deserves to be honoured and glorified. For instance, 1 Chronicles 16:10 exhorts believers to “Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.” And to glory in His name is to glory in God Himself. Further, to trust in His name is to trust in Him according to Psalm 33:21: “For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.”

2. What does “hallowing” mean?

Now, what does it mean to “hallow” His name? The basic meaning of the word is to “set aside something or make it suitable” for the worship of God, such as a gift or gold (Matt. 23:17, 19).[1] Since God’s name already is holy, this word cannot have this meaning (Psalm 111:9).

Rather, it means “to treat as holy.”[2] A similar meaning is found in the word “sanctify” in Isaiah 29:23: “But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.”

As the King of the Universe, His name is worthy to be hallowed. But this prayer is necessary for two reasons.

a. The world does not hallow God’s name.

Remember that God’s “name” represents His person. That is why it is so terrible for people to take God’s name in vain, because it shows that they disregard His person.

While the ungodly world will continue to blaspheme God’s name, no doubt, when someone gets saved there is one less person who will hate, despise, and mock God’s name. This prayer for God’s name to be hallowed is a prayer for people to get saved!

b. Believers, too often, do not hallow God’s name.

But sadly, too often we do not set apart the name of God. I don’t mean that we blaspheme Him; perhaps some Christians do, and that is a horrific thing. What I mean is that we do not actively and positively honour God as we should. We don’t do battle for His honour before those who hate Him; we treat Him as if He were an ordinary person, not very holy or honourable at all. We defend our favourite athletes; we defend our preferred political parties; ought we not to stand up for Jesus? Ought we not to gladly give out tracts, and not be ashamed of His name? Ought we not to be ashamed to be Christians?

So this prayer is a prayer for God to strengthen us to actively hallow His name in our public lives, as well as in our times of prayer before God.

And hallowing is, after all, extremely close to the heart of God. Remember what we learned near the beginning of August, that God does everything for the glory of His name? Ezekiel 36:20-23 explains this clearly:

“And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. 21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. 22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”

When we hallow His name, we are participating in this great project.

So God’s name, He Himself, is worthy of all our praise and all our thanks, and is worthy to be worshipped and honoured. When we pray, “Hallowed be thy name,” we are saying, “May you be treated as worthy of all honour.”

Now, why is this request in the Lord’s prayer? Next Thursday we will find out why Jesus includes this request in the model prayer, and why it is the very first request.

[1] BDAG, 3rd ed., s.v. ἁγιάζω.

[2] Ibid.