The Lord’s Prayer (4): Hallowed be Your Name
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Deuteronomy 5:11
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth... Philippians 2:9-10
John Calvin, I believe, pointed out that the Lord's Prayer has a certain similarity to the Ten Commandments in that in the first half of the prayer, God's concerns are our priority - your name, your kingdom, your will - and in the second half our concerns are committed to him - give us, forgive us, deliver us.
There are many names for God in the Bible, revealing different aspects of his character, so that we can know he is our provider, our creator, our sustainer, our saviour and redeemer, a character revealed to us supremely in Jesus. And we pray that his name will be honoured and kept holy - in our lives, our speech, and our actions, in his church and in his world.
When I was taught the third commandment and the Lord's Prayer in Sunday school, hallowing God's name and taking his name 'in vain', were reduced to 'don't swear' or, more narrowly, 'don't blaspheme'. But the thrust of this prayer must be wider than that. We can dishonour his name in some situations by our silence. In public life we can dishonour him by Christian disunity and disagreement. We sometimes dishonour him in our worship - both by cold formality and by casual chatty informality. Should our children sing, 'Jim is not the boss, Jesus is the boss', when in everyday speech the word 'boss' has a mildly 'slangy' feel and sometimes has to do with being bossy? And how should we react to blasphemy from work colleagues and family members? Is it more important to respond to fluent, and sometimes arrogant, belittling of faith, than to casual swearing?
The Lord God is holy. His name is holy eternally, from before all ages. Nothing anyone can say can dent that truth. They are only demonstrating their puny rebellions, but they can sometimes undermine our faith and make us feel fearful and inadequate to respond. We need to remind ourselves that his name will be hallowed totally and completely when the Lord comes to reign, and we are praying for that day to come as well as praying in the difficulties and challenges of today.
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