Matthew 6 – Hallowed Be Your Name
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Matthew 6:9
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever."Psalm 145:1
There is something so out of this world about our Father in heaven. He is intimately involved with us, as the address of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father in heaven," teaches us. At the same time he is so different from us. And lest we approach him too casually, the first petition of the Lord's Prayer reminds us that he is a Holy Father: "Hallowed be your name." The first thing in our prayer is to ask God to make his name holy in and through us.
We ask God to do this for us because of who he is. He is holy and we ask him to ensure that in our lives and in the lives of others he is honoured, revered, respected, praised, sanctified, and glorified as holy. When we pray this petition we are asking God to ensure that we rightly know him not only from his Word, but also from his works. Lord's Day 47 of the Heidelberg Catechism, as a faithful summary of God's Word, teaches us this truth.
Our prayer is that when we see and contemplate God's works, we will receive a glimpse of who he is. It's a prayer that we might see in his works his power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth. It's a prayer that having caught a glimpse of who he is, we might also praise him and so hallow his name.
That is what the psalmist David is doing in Psalm 145. He is contemplating God's works and praising God for them – he is hallowing God's name. He begins the psalm with praise, in verses 1-3:
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
Then throughout the rest of the Psalm, David speaks of God's works. He does so because it is those works which show God's holiness so beautifully. It is God's works that show his apartness from his creation. It's those works that give rise to the praise in verses 1-3 as well as the call to worship in verse 21, "Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." No matter where David looks, he sees God's "mighty acts," his "wonderful works," his "awesome works," his "great deeds," his "abundant goodness and righteousness." David sees a holy God whose name is worthy of all praise.
You see, God is a holy God and his works show that, time and time again. Just think of a little baby woven intricately inside his or her mother's womb. We see that work of God, and we say "Wow!" You want to see God's works? You want to understand that God is holy, awesome and so set apart from us? Then look at a baby.
A covenant child is baptized. A sinner worthy of death receives the promise of life. There you have evidence of God's mercy and goodness. Psalm 145:8 says it, "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." You want to see that God is holy, so much beyond us? You want to see that God is majestic and awesome, that his ways are so far beyond ours, that his wisdom is infinitely greater than ours, that his righteous ways are beyond our ability to comprehend? You want to see that? Then watch a baptism. Our awesome and holy God saves sinners!
He is holy. There is an infinite distance between his holiness and our humanity. It is not for nothing that the seraphim whom Isaiah the prophet saw above the throne of God were calling out to one another:
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.
When we pray "Hallowed be your name," we are asking God to help us see and understand something of his holiness so that we might revere, treasure, sanctify, esteem, respect, praise, and stand in awe of his holy name – that we might stand in awe of him! It's a prayer that we might constantly be at the point of saying with the seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty."