We started this series on the Lord’s prayer last time, and we looked at the preface of the prayer that goes, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” This post will look at the first of six petitions that lay out for every Christian a model that teaches us how to pray. Before we get into the first petition, I want to draw your attention to something first. Hopefully since last time you have been thinking about your own prayers and considering whether or not they are pleasing to God. But as you look at your own prayers and compare them to the Lord’s prayer, I hope you are seeing how theocentric or God centered they are. Stop and think about this for a second. Here are the first three petitions, reworded into modern language:
- Father, make your name holy
- Father, make your kingdom come
- Father, make your will to be done
Now think about the common prayers we often hear, and even pray ourselves. Too often they begin and end with ourselves in mind. If we call Jesus’ model prayer theocentric, then we would have to say that most of our prayers are anthropocentric, or man-centered. Centered upon our needs, our wants, our desires, our responses to God’s blessings. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to come to him in our times of need. After all, the fourth prayer is a request for our daily bread. BUT we need to make sure that when we come to the Lord in prayer, it is not like rubbing a magic lamp to get the genie to give us what we want. Prayer is so much more than “Thanks” followed by “give me.”
With that, let’s look at the first petition in our model prayer: “Hallowed be your name.” What does this mean? In this petition, we are really praying that God’s name would shine forth in full glory and honor. The fact that this is the first petition is not an accident. Jesus brought this petition up to the front to show that the glory of God is to take priority even over our own physical needs. The purpose of man’s existence is to bring glory to God. Now, you may not believe that, or have even thought about that, but that is a fact.
Rom 11:36: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
1Cor 6:20: for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Rev 4:11: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
So what does it really mean to make God’s name holy? The word “holy” or to hallow means to separate from common use. Think about it, when we say that a cemetery is hallowed ground, we mean that it is sacred and set apart for a special purpose. When we make God’s name holy, it does not mean that we are adding to a deficiency in his holiness. For example, when a sports team wins a championship, the praise and glory that they receive is added to their renown. They become more worthy of praise than they were before they had achieved their championship status.
But God is not like that. He is perfect and when we glorify and magnify his name, we aren’t adding anything to his essential glory and majesty—he cannot be any greater than he already is. All we are doing in magnifying him is making him greater in the eyes of others. In his book Don’t Waste your Life, John Piper says this, ]
“Magnify has two distinct meanings. In relation to God, one is worship and one is wickedness. You can magnify like a telescope or like a microscope. When you magnify like a microscope, you make something tiny look bigger than it is. A dust mite can look like a monster. Pretending to magnify God like that is wickedness. But when you magnify God like a telescope, you make something unimaginably great look like what it really is. With the Hubble space Telescope, pinprick galaxies in the sky are revealed for the billion-star giants that they are. Magnifying God like that is worship.” (p. 32).
A True Christian strives to exalt and advance the name of Christ.
The question he asks himself in everything he is doing is, “Will this action or activity bring honor and glory to God’s name?” This was Paul’s desire. Phil 1:20 says, “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” And we know that these weren’t just cheap words from Paul, because when he wrote them, he was in prison for preaching the gospel, and would eventually be put to death in Rome.
But, you may be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with prayer?
1. If you do not magnify God’s name in your life, you contradict your own prayers and are a hypocrite.
Hallowing God’s name is not something we only pray. It is the purpose that we live for. We pray this petition as we are mindful that we are living out our lives that God’s name would be made holy in our lives everyday.
2. If you cannot grasp the holiness of the God that you are praying to, then you wills struggle in your prayer life.
How often do we struggle in prayer to stay awake? Even Jesus’ closest three disciples struggled as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene on the night he was betrayed. If only we could see a glimpse of God’s glory! What a stirring up of our prayers we might have! What if we saw God as Moses who saw a glimpse of God’s glory as he was hidden in the cliff! Or the angels who see God sitting upon his throne and must cover their eyes with their wings, crying “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Whether we see a glimpse of God’s glory or not, his name is great and is to be praised among all the nations.
Ps 8:9: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Ps 115:1: Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
How you will live your life to bring God the glory that he so richly deserves?