So we're doing an extended reflection on the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, popularly known as the "Lord's Prayer." Lockdown is actually a time of opportunity - to seek God in fresh ways. It's hard in certain ways, but there's also opportunities here - the Lord is at work, and will continue to be.
So what's in a name?
Allot, especially when it comes to the Bible and a biblical understanding of names. And this is important for understanding the next section of the Lord's prayer we're getting onto today:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name..." [Matthew 6:9]
We've already covered "Our Father". We're now moving on to "hallowed be your name." To start with, hallowed means holy, sacred, revered. The word group around "holiness" has a rich history of meaning in the bible.
To declare God Holy is to declare something about God's essential and innermost nature. To declare God Holy is to declare His power over everything, His eternal nature, His incomparable glory, and is meant to evoke a strong and deep sense of awe.
So, when we pray "hallowed be your name" we are seeking God in His essential and innermost nature. Do you know what makes this even more powerful though? Linking this insight with an understanding of the significance of biblical names and naming.
What's in a Name?
We understand names to be quite important. Especially when naming the next generation, each new child that comes into the world tends to have some significance to their name. Whether it's a loved relative, a name that carries special significance to the parents, or a prayerful consideration, when naming we tend to look for names with great meaning.
Biblically, the concept of naming was rooted in the ancient world’s understanding that a name expressed essence. To know the name of a person was to know that person’s character and nature.
Even more, names revealed character and destiny, like in the case of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 (verses 24-26 in particular). Initially, Jacob in particular was named in a way that meant deceiver, and he indeed proved to be true to his name. However, after a powerful encounter with God, Jacob's name was changed by God's direct initiative, revealing a transformation in his character and destiny (Genesis 32:28).
In other words, names are about the core identity, the core character, the essential nature of a thing - whether us humans, or God Himself.
So when we call upon God's name, we are calling upon God in His essential identity, character, and nature.
When we "hallow" God's name, we're actually getting our focus completely set right. Getting our focus set on who He is. As such, the part of the Lord's prayer, "hallowed be your name" is a a powerful reorientation of our focus, ourselves, our lives. And we all need this "righting" of our perspective right now!
When we pray "hallowed be your name", we've got the opportunity to pray that "be" into existence wherever we direct our praying. We are asking God, in His essential nature, character, and identity, to "be so" in the world, in our nation, in our lives, in our decisions, in our affections, in our relationships...wherever we want God to "be" who He is.
In other words, we are seeking God, by setting our focus on who He is, to be who He is in our world and in our lives. And right now, more than we need Governments to make good decisions, more than we need individual citizens to make good decisions, more than we need this virus to be overcome in the world, we need God to be God. Because, if this is God's world, and He loves us in it, which the bible clearly declares He does (see, for example, John 3:16), then God can lead us in taking care of all these above desires, and some!
Where to from here?
You and I need to know who God is! In order for us to know who we are calling on to "be" at work in whatever we're praying for. So make sure you know who God is. You can't do worse than to study the names of God. This will ensure that when you "hallow" his name, you are actually calling upon a God who is far more profound, wonderful, powerful, and true, than you could have previously imagined.
Jesus, teaching on the vital importance of seeking God in prayer, and not giving up, finished His teaching with this declaration. It is a declaration to take to heart, and to put into our praying with fresh purpose and passion right now:
"...will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly."
This is what is behind He who we cry out to, "hallowed be your name." What a God of promise and hope He is. And how we need to hear that, around the world, right now!
Praying "hallowed be your name" with you this week!
Written by Ps. Rob