• Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.

His Name Is Holy

So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. Ezekiel 39:7NKJV


This morning we continue to 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.”


There is one more section of this question that we need to look at before we move on. The last phrase of the answer shows us in what we must place our hope as we pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” It is not a statement of fact but a command. We express to God a desired action that we are calling upon Him to make. The Son of God taught us that this is the correct way that human beings are to exercise the duty and privilege of prayer to their divine Creator. We are to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, make Your name holy.” It is the first petition of the prayer. The first words off of our lips, expressing what should be our most ardent desire: that more than anything else, before anything else, that Oh Lord if You do nothing else, do this one thing and we will be content: make Your own name holy in all the earth! As we saw previously God must do this for we cannot. If we could cause God’s name to be properly hallowed in the earth, Jesus would have commanded His disciples to go out and do it rather than to ask God to do it in prayer. Likewise the hallowing or making holy of God’s name refers not to God’s name as it is in itself, but it refers to His reputation. God’s name was, is, and always will be perfectly holy. Nothing we do can add to or take away from the inherent and perfect holiness of God’s name. However, fallen human beings do not treat God’s name as holy. We do not revere God in His Word and works the way we ought. We do not rightly consider or respond to God’s name in the way that the intrinsic worth of His name calls forth and expects of rational creatures. Therefore, in this prayer we are asking God to rectify that situation and to do what is necessary to hallow, that is, to make His name to be regarded as holy in every molecule of creation.


The last phrase of the Catechism’s answer shows us in what we are to place our confidence that God our Father will grant this request and make His name holy in all the earth: His overruling providence. God’s providence refers to His power and wisdom in causing all things and all creatures to conform to His ultimate plan and purpose. Theologians speak of God’s providence under the concept of His decretive will. From all eternity God has already planned out or decreed all that will be. He will save His elect. He will punish the wicked. He will be glorified in all of His creatures. All of these things will one day come fully to pass. Mysteriously, God has created many creatures in the realms of men and of angels who are able to act willfully and deliberately both for and against the glory of God. For a season God allows His name to be treated in various ways by them. There are many individuals among fallen angels and men who are doing all that they can to disgrace the holy name of God. Our desire in framing this petition is not to question God’s wisdom in allowing things that He hates, but that God will, in His time and as He pleases, overrule those evil actions and intentions. That regardless of what some men and angels might intend, God would, secretly and secondarily as it were, direct and dispose the things that they intended for evil to bring about good, and the ultimate good: the glory of the name of God. We see how God has done this in His Word over and over, through the actions of Satan in the book of Job, Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh, Balak and Balaam, Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, Judas, the chief priests, and others. The Scripture at the head of this article declares how God would do this through the actions of the evil nations of Gog, Magog, and their allies. God causes even His enemies to bring glory to His name in many wonderful and amazing ways. Thus, we should be motivated to pray this prayer in the sure hope that God will, even in our day, in unexpected and startling ways, cause His name to be hallowed.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Reformed doctrine. Reverent worship. Real life.

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