We saw last week that to “hallow” God’s name means to set God Himsef apart as sacred; it is to treat Him as worthy of worship and honour, for He is worthy.
Now, why is this request in the Lord’s prayer?
Notice that “the Lord’s Prayer has six petitions,” three of them “Thy” petitions, and three of them “Our” petitions. Notice which come first: the “Thy” requests, which “focus our attention upward to God,” asking that His name be hallowed, and that His kingdom come, and that His will be done.
This shows that God is more important than we are. His name, kingdom, and will must come before our needs.
God’s name being hallowed should be our deepest longing.
We pray for what is important to us. If the first thing you pray is, “Lord, please save my family,” that is because your family is closest to your heart. If the first thing you pray is, “Lord, please help me to keep my job,” that is because your need to support yourself and your family is closest to your heart.
Now, neither of these requests is wrong; we are instructed to pray for our “daily bread,” our everyday needs, and it honours God when we bring our needs to Him. We long for our families to be saved; we desire to have security in our jobs. But shouldn’t we long for the name of our God to be glorified amongst us? Shouldn’t God’s desires come before our desires?
If our deepest longing were the honouring of God’s worthy name, it would be #1 on our prayer lists, as it is in the Lord’s Prayer.
But it is easy to put the “Our” requests before the “Thy” requests. It is easy to pray to try to build up our kingdom instead of God’s kingdom. If we do so, we are the living like the kind of people James wrote about in James 4:2-3: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
My son is still only a few months old, but I am already praying for him. Yes, I’m praying about his future, but often my requests simply are that he would have a long nap or sleep well during the night! It is good to pray about such things; we are to rely on the Lord for all things, not just the big things.
But it is easy for me to let my kingdom be the driving force behind such prayers: “Lord, help him nap so that I can sleep, so I can be less tired and have more time to read fun books and watch movies,” “Lord, help him to be less fussy so that my life will be easier,” instead of, “Lord, help him sleep; you know my wife and I need sleep, and we want to honour you and have energy to serve you.” There is a subtle difference there, but it is a huge difference!
When I didn’t have a job one summer when I was in my late teens or early 20s, I prayed for God to provide me one. Again, that sounds godly, right? I’m trusting God to provide my needs. But I can easily pray that and have my kingdom “driving that prayer.” “Lord, please provide me a job so I can have money to spend on fun things.” “Lord, please give me a job so I can feel secure in a job instead of having to trust you.”
Now, here’s the key to help you pray this prayer: If you put Him first; if you put hallowing His name first, you have a promise from God. The Lord said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). If you put Him first, He will not forget your needs but will provide them!
So putting God first doesn’t make you miss out on anything; rather, it gives you the joy of participating in God’s program, and having every one of your needs met! You will never need to be anxious or afraid if you put God first. Jesus said in John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
So take a close look at your prayer life, and see if you are really putting God’s kingdom first; if you are really seeking His will first. When you wake up in the morning to pray, or when you pray before you go to bed, why not pray about God’s desires and put Him first, and then pray about your needs? That is when true joy comes.