Holy and awesome is his name!
The very first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “hallowed be your name.” Or, to put it another way, “Lord, may your name – that is You – be recognized throughout the world as holy.” To hallow something is to treat it as holy, that is, as something set apart and uniquely precious. In the Bible there is a correspondence between persons and their names. In the same way God teaches us in his word to see a close connection between his name and his essence. That is why the Bible so often calls the name of the Lord holy or for his name to be glorified. To pray for God’s name to be treated as holy is to pray for God himself to be seen and treated as holy.
Before we make any personal petitions for our own well-being, the Lord directs us to set our perspective on things eternal. Specifically, we are directed to establish our priorities in view of the great and blessed vocation of showing forth God as holy throughout the world. Certainly we do not make God holy. His very essence is holiness. But we are to proclaim him as holy. Likewise, we are to demonstrate by our very lives our conviction that God is holy and give public witness to that fact.
As we learned earlier in this series of messages, the Lord’s Prayer is not to be seen as the sole form of Christian prayer. Many times our prayers come quickly and spontaneously as the needs and griefs of this fallen world press in upon us. But even then, though we may not form the words “hallowed be your name,” the concern they express is to linger in our hearts.
The words that adorn the cover of our worship bulletin every Lord’s Day are from Psalm 138: “For you have exalted above all things your name and your word (vs. 2). By calling us to pray, “hallowed be your name,” the Lord invites us into the rightest thing in all the universe. He invites us to practice and proclaim what all creation has known since God uttered the words, “Let there be…”
J.I. Packer writes:
“God’s chief end, purposed in all that he does, is his glory (and what higher end could he have?), and he has so made us that we find our own deepest fulfillment and highest joy in hallowing his name by praise, submission, and service. God is no sadist, and the principle of our creation is that, believe it or not…our duty, interest and delight completely coincide” (Growing in Christ, 174).