I started a discussion of the Lord’s prayer yesterday. I only made it through the first four words, “Our Father in Heaven.” Today we look at the first petition, “Hallowed be Thy Name” or you could say, “hallowed be your name.”
The word “hallowed” refers to something that is reverenced or valued or honored. The idea that we would hallow or consider holy the name of the Lord goes back to the 3rd of the 10 commandments: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” That is… you should not use the name of the Lord frivolously or in the way that dishonors God. Some people consider this the swearing commandment. It’s not about swearing or about using “bad words.” This command is about speaking God’s name with honor and respect. So using the word, “God” or the name “Jesus” as an expletive would be a breaking of the 3rd commandment which probably means that most of us have broken this commandment from time to time.
We also should think about the word “name” for a moment. Did you know our God had a specific name? In the Hebrew that name is written YHWH. We often say it Yahweh, but we’re not really sure how to pronounce it because there were no vowels in ancient Hebrew. People knew how to pronounce the words without the vowels because of common use. The problem with God’s name is that long, long ago, the Jewish people stopped staying the name of God out loud so as to ensure that they wouldn’t misuse the name of God. Even when they were reading the Bible, whenever they came to the name of God, YHWH, they wouldn’t say the name of God out loud. Instead they would substitute the Hebrew word “LORD.” Our English Bibles have continued this tradition. So whenever you see the word “LORD” in the Old Testament in capitol letters as I have written it, you should know that you are looking at God’s name written in the Hebrew.
When Jesus taught us to pray at the beginning of his prayer, “hallowed be your name” I believe he was thinking about honoring the name of the LORD. He wanted us to honor God’s name in our prayer and to also to honor God’s name is everything we say or do. Do we want to honor God with our words and our actions? All the time? We should pray this request every day, so we will remember that even as we say we want God’s name to be honored… we are the ones who make this happen.
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