Honoring God’s Name

Matthew 6:9b 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I hope each of you had a good Thanksgiving. We all, no matter where we are in life, no matter our current circumstances, each of us has reasons to be thankful to the Lord. Every believer does. Our God still reigns on His throne, He remains sovereign, and is still near and still cares, and He, for the believer, is still our Father. Christ Jesus is still our Lord and our Savior and He is still coming back for us and we will still be with Him forever in paradise. And even now God is our help.

We need these reminders we need to know all of the ways in which we should be thankful. The Psalms are full of such reminders. Worship with me as I read Psalm 24:

1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

As we think of being thankful and God being at the center of our reason to be thankful it is refreshing that in the Lord's Prayer or the model prayer that Jesus sees fit to lift up the Name of God saying, “Hallowed be your name.” I want us to think about and consider the importance and even the practical implications of this phrase that Jesus utters in this prayer, “hallowed be your name.”

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

There is a place to start in prayer when it comes to our petitions, our requests. If we follow Jesus’ model here then we see that the place to start in prayer is with a concern and passion for God’s name. No matter how desperate our situation may be or what illness we face or calamity we see ahead. Before we begin to think of ourselves and our own needs or even the needs of others we can begin with a great concern about God and his honor and His glory. It is easy to get so focused on ourselves and our needs or desires or even those of our loved ones that we forget to think of the greater matter of concern for God’s honor and glory. Let’s think about what is wrapped up in this phrase in the Lord’s prayer.

When I was a kid we would go and stay with my grandparents in rural southwestern Oklahoma. This was my favorite place to be as a kid. Hanging on the wall of one of the bedrooms was a handmade needlepoint picture of the Lord’s Prayer. As a kid, I would lay in bed and read it. But there was this one word that I had no idea what it meant. It was the word “hallowed.” It just wasn’t a word that we used then and it is not really a word we use today either. What does this word mean?

It is simply to regard as holy or to honor as holy. So hallowed by your name is to say, holy and honorable be your name.

I think the first important point here is that when we come into the presence of God in prayer that we immediately recognize that God is to be revered. And so we come before Him with that attitude, with that thought in mind that we are coming before the Holy One. We are not talking to a neighbor or a family member. We are not coming before an equal but we are coming to the Lord Almighty, the Holy One, that One who deserves all our reverence. He is to be honored by us as we pray.

He is not simply the “man upstairs” or the “old man upstairs” as some use to refer to God. No, He is the sovereign, mighty One who deserves all of our honor.

“Hallowed be your name.”

Now, if our prayer is this, really is that His name be honored as holy and that we want Him to be reverenced, then we need to make this a reality in our lives, not just words spoken in times of prayer. Words can be easy and, frankly, meaningless if words are not followed by actions consistent with our words. What I mean is that it is easy for me to say “hallowed be your name” but to actually live in a way that honors His name, that can be more difficult. But do we mean it or not? Are they just words spoken or are they words that express themselves for our lives? We have to think about this.

Ultimately, to reverence and honor God and His name is to glorify Him, is to live in obedience to His commands. To honor Him is to obey Him. To honor Him is to believe that His ways are superior to all others’ ways; so it is to take His ways seriously and to live according to them. We can not say we honor God, glorify Him and then live our own contrived ways that are contrary to His ways. That is hypocrisy and proves our words to be false.

The opposite of honoring God’s name as holy is to profane His name through wicked living. We see examples of this again and again in the OT. For example:

Leviticus 18:21 You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

Now this is an easy one for us to see. Molech was an Ammonite god who was worshiped through human sacrifice. The message is simple. You cannot say you are a worshiper of God, the One true God and at the same time give your child as a human sacrifice to an Ammonite god. To do so would be to profane the name of the Lord God. If their words say, I worship the One true God and their actions consist of giving a child to an Ammonite god then which is the more powerful testimony? The action, right? This is profaning the name of God not regarding God as holy and one to be reverenced. It is trashing God’s name by doing evil deeds.

Psalm 74:7 They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.

The haters of God profaned God’s name by destroying those places that represented His presence. It was like destroying all that represented God would be to destroy God Himself. So rather than holding out God’s name as Holy and one to be revered they would destroy all that represents Him in a purposeful act attempting to crush His influence in the land. The Lord God had instructed the Hebrews to release their Hebrew slaves and give them their freedom. To obey this command would be to honor the Lord and show reverence to His name. The people, the Hebrews immediately obeyed in what looked like repentance but then disobeyed by going back going back on their word and re-enslaving their Hebrew brothers. God calls this “profaning his name.” Here is what it says:

Jeremiah 34:16 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves.

And so, profaning the name of God was disobeying His expressed Word. Now in contrast, we see examples of what it looks like to honor God’s name, to desire that His name be hallowed. And I want us to look at this and in particular how God Himself is passionate about the holiness of His name. And this is what we see. When man in his sinfulness proclaims to represent God and yet lives openly sinful, then the truth of God is not seen. People see one professing to know God, see his works and then make assumptions as to what God is like, who God is. People may say, I don’t know God but I know you and you say you represent Him so I can assume who God is by how you live.

And so do we fairly represent God or do we, by our actions, misrepresent God? In Isaiah we see God’s passion for His own name and His disdain over being misrepresented.

Isaiah 29:22-32 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”

God was acting for the sake of His own name. “Hallowed be Your name,” Jesus prays, “hallowed be Your name.” Our prayer, even in our weakness, should be hallowed be Your name. Now, I think it is fair for us to ask: “How sincere is prayer, in this case, a request and an express desire made to God, how sincere is it if we then come out of our prayer time and purposefully live contrary to God’s commands?” In other words if we pray “hallowed be Your name” and we understand that to mean, glory be to Your name, holy reverence be to God’s name,” but we live not in holy obedience but in a way that if observed is actually profaning God’s name then what use, what good is our prayer at all and how, really, how sincere is it anyway?

It goes back to the statement, words are easy but actions can not only be difficult but can be telling of the real passion in our lives. Would you agree? And the reality is, that I have just suggested that we are all guilty of such hypocrisy. The reason is because none of us have always lived lives to glorify God’s name. We have all sinned, we have all misrepresented God’s intents, we have all missed the mark of God’s holiness. We are all guilty and have all, in some measure, profaned His glorious name.

Are you with me here? So what do we do? Do we stop praying that God’s name be held up as glorious and that His character be made known? Do we give up saying hallowed by your name? That is certainly not the solution. The solution for us is what the solution is always when we sin.

What do you do? We repent. We confess that our actions have not sufficiently lined up with God’s revealed will in our lives. We admit that, confess that as truth and we repent before God. This means that we agree with God that we have failed to hold up His name as glorious, we acknowledge our desire and sincere intent to turn from such sin of disobedience and we ask God for His help to change us and to lead us in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. We don’t wallow in our sin, we don’t get depressed in our sin, we admit, confess, repent, ask for help and move forward in a way that not only acknowledges our new desire but act also shows those around us that we believe that God's ways are superior to any other way and that God deserves our loyalty our obedience and our lives. That He is great and our lives show that.

When Jesus prayed this prayer it was consistent with His perfect life. He never once prorated the name of God, he never lived inconsistent with God’s glory, never once disobeyed the Almighty God. And since this is true then He alone can not only save us but can lead us by His Spirit, in His might to obedient living, not to earn God’s favor but to help us in joy to live for Him because we love Him.

My prayer is that we can pray this prayer, hallowed by your name, and as we do it will be with sincerity and that our lives will more and more reflect our belief that he is deserving of our obedience and faithfulness to Him.

Matthew 6:9b 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.