You may know the Lord’s prayer in the Bible, but have you stopped to think what it means when it says “Hallowed be your name”? What exactly are we asking when we pray this?
I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I find reading the Bible much easier than praying. I can easily spend an hour or so reading and studying the Bible, but I find it difficult to spend as much time in prayer.
I decided I really needed to improve in this area of my Christian walk. So I have begun studying all about prayer in the Bible. I thought a good place to start my study on prayer was the model prayer given by Jesus, often called the Lord’s prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer
After seeing Jesus praying, one of his disciples asked him how to pray. So Jesus gave him the model prayer which we can read in Luke 11:2-4.
When he finished praying in a certain place, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”Luke 11:2-4
He said to them, “When you pray, say,
‘Our Father in heaven,
May your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
And, possibly on a different occasion, during the sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches the crowds the same model prayer with six petitions. (Matthew 6:9-13).
In this model prayer, the first three petitions focus on God – his name, his kingdom, and his will. The second three petitions focus on us – our needs, our forgiveness, and our protection.
Most of us can probably recite the Lord’s prayer from memory. But do we understand the words we are praying? What does the first petition mean: “May your name be kept holy”, or as some versions say, “Hallowed be your name”? What sorts of things should we pray for under this petition?
Hallowed be your name
“Holy” or “Hallowed”
“Hallowed” means to set apart, to declare it to be holy, to reverence, or to honor as sacred.
This means that God receives all glory and honor and power.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.Psalm 29:2 (ESV)
In Bible times, names were often used to mean something. For example Jacob means supplanter; Nabal means fool (1 Samuel 25:25). Sometimes names were changed eg Jacob to Israel, Abram to Abraham, Naomi to Mara, Simon to Peter – all revealing a change in nature or character.
God has revealed himself to us in the Bible. We can learn various names by which he is called in Scriptures because the names of God are a revelation of who he is.
Those who know your name will put their trust in you.Psalm 9:10
His “name” means his “character”, so those who know God’s character will put their trust in him. Here are some of the names of God in the Bible:
- Yahweh speaks of a God who is a faithful covenant-keeping God,
- El teaches us that he is the mighty one,
- Adonai shows us that he is Lord over all things.
So how do I pray “Hallowed be your name”?
In praying “hallowed be your name”, we are praying for God’s glory to be recognized by all of creation. We do not make him holy by praying this; we are just acknowledging that he is holy.
Praise the Lord
So our number one priority in prayer is adoration – praising God for who he is. Beginning our prayers with praise is a way of expressing our delight, joy, and dependence on God.
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing to the glory of his name! Offer glory and praise! Tell God, “How awesome are your deeds! Through the greatness of your power, your enemies submit themselves to you. All the earth will worship you, and will sing to you; they will sing to your name.” Selah. (Psalm 66:1-4)
We can praise God for his wonderful name, but also for his glorious attributes. For example, God is:
- omnipotent (all-powerful)
My mouth shall be filled with your praise, with your honor all the day.Psalm 71:8
When I color-code my Bible, I underline verses that speak about the character of God in red. So I can easily flip through my Bible and read those highlighted verses to be reminded of his names and his character.
Another way to find ways to praise God, is to read a passage of Scripture, and then praise God for what you learn about him in that passage.
Lives that glorify God
In addition to this, we should also pray that God would be glorified in our lives. We need to ask for help to live a life that brings glory to God, repenting of the sins in our lives. We do not want our lives to bring disrepute to God’s reputation. Rather we ask for help to live a life of integrity, one that bears much fruit.
Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1Corinthians 10:31
If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.1 Peter 4:11
Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:16
“In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.”John 15:8
But it’s not only in our own lives that we wish to see the Lord honored. We also pray for the Lord to be glorified in the lives of other believers.
To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and work of faith, with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Conversion of unbelievers
We pray that specific non-Christians (family, friends, acquaintances and more) will be brought into a relationship with God, because that also brings him honor.
They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.Galatians 1:23-24 (ESV)
Finally we should also pray that Christians would be bold and eager to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers. It is not enough to simply live good lives. If we are relying on our good works to witness to others, then we are spreading a false gospel – one that says good works save. The gospel message must be told.
Summary – Praying “Hallowed be Your Name”
So in praying “Hallowed be you name” we:
- Praise the Lord for his marvelous name and character
- Pray that all believers would live lives that honor and glorify God.
- Pray for the conversion of the unsaved, so that they too will praise the Lord’s name
- Ask for boldness and a desire to proclaim the gospel message to unbelievers.