The Lord’s Prayer is one we love and use often because it is so simple and understandable. That is, most of it is simple and understandable. Unfortunately the first phrase we are given to pray, “Hallowed be Your name,” is the one that makes the least sense to us. We often just pass over it, assuming it is something archaic that doesn’t really apply to us today. “Hallowed.” Who ever uses that word in every day conversation today? What does it even mean? Let’s just quickly skip over it and get to what we do understand: give us our daily bread, forgive us our sins and help us do your will. Now those are things we can pray about!
Yet Jesus doesn’t start with them. He starts with this strange phrase, ”Hallowed by Your name.” “Hallowed” reminds us of Halloween, but what does that have to do with prayer? If we try to put a religious slant to it we think of monks chanting as they walk through cloistered halls. Frankly, the word sounds like something from the 12th Century, not something we’d pray today.
On top of that, we don’t really know what the word means. So we pass over it to get to our concerns of daily needs and forgiveness. But Jesus doesn’t start His model prayer with our concerns, He starts with God’s concerns, that God’s name be “hallowed,” or “made holy.”
To “hallow” something means to make it sacred, worthy of highest veneration and respect.
Abraham Lincoln, in his famous Gettysburg Address, declared, “We cannot hallow, we cannot consecrate, we cannot dedicate this ground.” Why? Because the men who fought and died on that ground already made it a special, sacred place through their suffering and sacrifice. The battlefield is, to this day, honored because of what happened there.
So when we pray “hallowed by Your name” we are really praying, “God, may Your name be treated with the respect, the honor, the holiness it deserves.” We hallow God’s name when we treat it with the highest respect, for that is what He is worthy of. That’s the first thing Jesus wants us to pray. Think of that phrase as you pray it. Don’t jump over it or see it as a throw-away phrase until you get to praying about your own concerns. Start with God’s first concern, His holy reputation. Honor Him, thank Him for being the holy God He is. Truly, holy is His name!
(Written by Jerry Schmoyer, 2014. You can find more of his writings at http://www.christiantrainingonline.org/. If you have questions or suggestions feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)