“In this manner, therefore, pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.'”
We really don’t use the word “hallowed” anymore. It is kind of an archaic word, and, to be honest, the only time most people ever use it is in saying the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) Since “hallowed” was written into the English translation of the Bible four centuries ago, English-speaking people have said it countless times. But “hallowed” has become a rote word, one which people speak but which most people have no idea what it really means. We have a vague notion that “hallowed” has something to do with reverence or holiness, but the word just doesn’t enter into our everyday conversation.
You might be surprised to learn that the verb “hallow” (or its past tense form “hallowed”) has the same Old English root as the adjective “holy.” Now we DO use the word “holy” quite a bit, don’t we? So, as you might have guessed, “hallow” is a verb that means “to set apart as holy, to consecrate, to revere.” In the Greek New Testament, the verb used here in Matthew 6:9 is “αγιασθητω” (hagiastheto), which means “to make holy, to sanctify.” “Hallowed” is an almost perfect translation…if we remember what it means.
Almost by definition, one might think that God’s name is already holy, that He certainly doesn’t need our help in making His name holy. But if that were so, then He would not have needed to tell us this:
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
We do remember that part of the Ten Commandments, don’t we? Of course, we usually take it to mean that we are not to demean God’s name, not to use His name willy-nilly for every useless thing in our conversation. We often assume that the third Commandment is simply about not swearing by the Lord unnecessarily. But in the Lord’s Prayer, we see that this Commandment is about something else: We are not just to AVOID using the Lord’s name in our own vain pursuits, we are to SET ASIDE His name as revered, holy, and consecrated for HIS will and HIS purposes. By saying “Hallowed be Your name,” we are telling God that we will KEEP His name holy.
But what name is it we are to keep holy? Jesus doesn’t tell us. In Hebrew, the name of God is written as “YHWH” – which in English is sometimes written out as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” Out of respect for God’s name, in many English translations of the Old Testament, “YHWH” is written as “the LORD.” Yes, that is the name found in the third Commandment.
Exodus 20:7 (American Standard Version)
Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
But that name of God (“YHWH” or “Jehovah”) isn’t used in the New Testament at all. So what name are we to “hallow”? Perhaps we have a clue here:
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Since Jesus was so focused on glorifying His Father, it would have been terribly presumptuous of Jesus to tell people to make His own name holy. His point is more that we are to make the Father’s name holy, to sanctify God’s name so that it has power and authority. We are to hallow God’s name so that His name – whether “YHWH” or “LORD” or “Jesus” – is not just bandied about like some pagan spell or ward to gain God’s favor. Rather, if we truly bow our knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, then we will respect His name and keep it holy. We will not take the name of the LORD our God in vain, but instead place His name above all other names, revering Jesus as Lord and Savior to the glory of God the Father.
“Hallowed be Your name” is our way of telling the Lord God that we will honor Him by not wasting His name and His holiness on our own vain things. We will instead revere the name of God and revere the name Jesus Christ. We will remember that His name has power. Furthermore, we are telling Him we know that if in faith we are attuned to His will, then in His name we may boldly ask for anything – healing, forgiveness, miracles, salvation – and expect that it will be done.
We will close with the Lord’s Prayer today, but before we do, let us meditate on that name that is above every other name: “Jesus.” His name literally means “Savior,” and as such it is more than just a name, it is a promise, an affirmation of our hope, a focus for our faith. Speak the name of Jesus with faith, and pronounce His name willingly, knowing deep in your heart that He IS Savior and He IS Lord. And now say this with me:
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.