Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 47
Lord's Day 47
What is the first petition?
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Grant us first of all
that we may rightly know Thee,
and sanctify, glorify, and praise Thee
in all Thy works,
in which shine forth
Thy almighty power,
wisdom, goodness, righteousness,
mercy, and truth.
Grant us also
that we may so direct our whole life –
our thoughts, words, and actions –
that Thy Name is not blasphemed
because of us
but always honoured and praised.
Q. & A. 122 Hallowed Be Thy Name
- God's name is God himself, as he has revealed himself. When we pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we do not make a wish that God's name be hallowed, but we formulate a prayer in which we ask that God will grant us that we hallow his name. The Catechism, therefore, begins the explanation in a beautiful way by stating, “That is: Grant us.”
The person who prays does not mention the manner and the means by which the Lord will grant this petition at all. He leaves that entirely up to God. “To hallow” means to acknowledge and esteem as holy and to keep holy. The hallowing of God's name comes first in the perfect prayer. For this is the highest goal in heaven and on earth. This petition received a preliminary answer in Christ's coming. The answer continues in the humble acknowledgement and obedience of the believers and will be completed in Christ's return.
- The form of the Answer is itself a prayer. You can pray it yourself! For the point is not that we need to learn to speak a lot about the name of the Lord, but that we should learn to pray for the hallowing of that name!
- In explanation of the word, Hallowed, the Catechism states that the first thing necessary is that we rightly know God. And that is what we pray for. For God has made himself clearly known in his Word (BC, art. 2), but he also has to grant us the ability to understand that Word.
- When I know someone, such as a writer, well, I can recognize him in his works. I need to read only a couple of pages before I can say, that is his work! In the same way, we must recognize and notice God in his works, that is, in all that he does. We must see his hand in all that happens, so that, both in the blessings which gladden us and the judgments which strike us, we can say, “It is the Lord!” We must say that too, in order to praise and glorify him. We may not be ashamed of the Lord. We must acknowledge him. The hallowing of his name requires that we publicly (i.e., in our speaking with others) acknowledge his name in all that happens! Sadly, this is missing so often. If only we asked it, as the Lord taught it to us.
- Finally, we ourselves must live in such a manner, that is, we must so order our lives (all our thoughts, words and actions must be so directed) that God's name is not blasphemed because of us, but is honoured and praised instead.
- What is God's name? Is the first petition a wish on our part, directed to God? What is it, then? Why is the hallowing of God's name mentioned first in the prayer? Does the Lord answer this petition? How?
- What is the form of this Answer of the Catechism? Why?
- What is necessary for the hallowing of God's name in the first place? When must we pray that God give this? What else is necessary for the hallowing of God's name? And what in addition?