The First Petition.
Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean?
Answer - God's name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.
How is this done?
Answer - When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with it. To this end, help us, dear Father in heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than God's Word teaches profanes the name of God among us. From this, preserve us, Heavenly Father.
Here Luther starts the “in itself” pattern, reminding us that God is already busy doing the things for which we ask in the Lord’s Prayer before us ask for them and even without our prayers.
In the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer we are asking for spiritual blessings. To keep God’s name hallowed, the Word of God needs to be taught in all its truth. Also, we the hearers, cannot pick and choose what we want to believe from what is taught, heard, or read from the Bible. John 17:17 says, “Thy Word is truth.” When we pray to the true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we honor or hallow His name. Prayer is an act of worship when we bring our petitions of lips and hearts as praise and thanksgiving to our loving God. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
Secondly, we as Christians and believers need to live a holy life according to the Word of God. This will honor the name of God. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
Naturally, we profane God’s name when we do the opposite as above – when we don’t teach or believe God’s name as the truth and don’t live lives as God’s truth teaches. Wow, that’s hard to do – and we admit we haven’t always done that! Forgive us, Lord, for unbelief and let the Holy Spirit lead us in our faith and to your truth.
But as Christ prayed in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:11 for His disciples, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave to me, so that they may be one as we are one.” I, as well as His disciples, have often missed “the mark” yet God the Father has been so loving and full of grace and forgiving.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
Artwork by Ed Rojas, © Higher Things
Amazing Grace, Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publish House, St. Louis