Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Asking God To Hallow His Name
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. Luke 1:49NKJV
This morning we look at Westminster Larger Catechism Question 190, which asks, “What do we pray for in the first petition?” It gives the answer, “In the first petition (which is, Hallowed be thy name,) acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honour God aright, we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him, his titles, attributes, ordinances, word, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by; and to glorify him in thought, word, and deed: that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonourable to him; and, by his overruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory.”
You might not have realized it before, but when we pray in The Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be Thy name,” we are asking God to do something. The phrase is a request, a supplication from the bride (the Church) to her husband (God) to please make His own name holy. God’s name signifies His reputation. We might know someone who has a good name among certain people. To have a good name means that people know you and like you. They see you as someone who has done good and valuable things for them or for their community. Likewise to have a bad name is to have an odious reputation. Such a person is known for the evil or harmful things they have done to others. When we pray that God would make His name holy, we are asking God for more and more people to be made aware of and to acknowledge His morally excellent character and works. And that they would, in their thoughts, words, and actions set Him apart as the most perfect divine being. Thus, the very fact that Jesus taught us to pray for God to hallow His own name reveals our utter inability to do it. As God’s people we should want His name to be revered in all the earth, but we should also recognize our powerlessness to accomplish this end. Therefore, Jesus taught us to pray to God to ask Him to make His name holy. In this way we get to be a part of God hallowing His name as He is pleased to do so upon our request!
When we ask God to hallow His name, we should first be thinking of God hallowing His name in us. As God’s own people, we should be the first ones to exalt His name as good. Christians should be known as people who are constantly and loudly proclaiming how good God is; how good and wonderful are all of His works. We should praise Him for His creation: how beautiful and amazing are all of His creatures. How intricate and careful are His works down to the microscopic cellular level. And how great and grand is His universe of myriads and myriads of galaxies. All of God’s works reflect, by their handiwork, something about their maker. We should be able to look at every creature and see something about God in it. How does this tree reflect the glory of God? How does the sun show forth His might and wisdom? How does a single living cell proclaim His careful design and purpose?
We should hallow God in our words, in how we speak about Him especially. Do we honor God in our words? Do we reverence His name? Are we careful to praise Him when we do call attention to who He is or what He has done for us or for others? The world is watching us and listening to how we speak about God. Christians have no business using God’s name as a mere exclamatory remark such as “Oh my God.” What a shame that our society thinks so little of God that we now have an acronym to belittle His name by: OMG. The last part of today’s question shows what our attitude towards such things should be. Our desire for God to hallow His name should include that He would prevent and remove all belittling and blaspheming of His name from our land. We who want God’s name to be honored, let us be careful first to honor it ourselves, and then to cry out to God to providentially and powerfully rid our nation of all occurrences of the dishonoring of His Name. Not only is this the right thing that should happen among men made in God’s image, but it would be the best thing for us and for our nation if God’s name would truly be hallowed among us.