Hallowed by Your name…
Questions for Reflection
- What does it mean to hallow something?
- Are there things you hallow in life?
- What does it mean to pray for God’s name to be hallowed?
- How does this prayer change what is important to us?
- How do we keep from losing a sense of God’s importance to all of life?
When I was a kid, my family took a trip to Gettysburg National Park. It’s the site of one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by the history. We were standing on the very ground where men had given their lives for the cause of freedom and our nation. It was what took place on that ground that literally changed all of American history.
Most people who visit have that same sense of significance and respect. In fact, it wasn’t long after the battle that President Lincoln stood near that same spot and delivered the Gettysburg address. He told the crowd, “We can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”
That word, hallowed, is not one we use very often. Instead, it’s reserved for that sacred feeling Lincoln was trying to capture.
To hallow something is to recognize its uniqueness, its sacredness, its meaning. That place is unlike others. Holy ground.
Hallowing God’s Name
Our memorized versions of the Lord’s prayer use just this word in its first request. “Hallowed be Your name.”
You can call a battlefield hallowed, but what does it mean to hallow the name of God? What does this first part of the prayer mean? In the original language, it comes through more clearly. It is a request, not some formal way of addressing God, but a prayer offered in request. “Father, let Your name be hallowed.”
When we think about praying, we usually think about our requests. Most nights, when I put my kids to bed, we pray, and usually, they have things they would like to pray about. Please help me to have no bad dreams. Help my friend who was sick today at school to feel better. Help me to get a hit in tomorrow’s little league game.
We know what it is to request things in prayer; it seems to come pretty naturally. But what does it mean that the first request of the Lord’s prayer is not for some possession or favor but that God’s name might be hallowed, that God’s name might be taken more seriously.
Before this prayer can get to requesting forgiveness or bread or even God’s will to be done, it begins with a request that God might be taken more seriously in our lives, that His name might be more sacred and holy to us.
Taking God Seriously
You see, the problem is, it’s easy to say you believe in God—even easy to pray to God—and at the same time not take Him all that seriously. Prayer can too easily become a kind of insurance policy. I better pray just to hedge my bet. Who knows, maybe it will work.
No, the Lord’s prayer won’t let us go down that path. From the beginning, our position is not manipulation or formality. In whatever comes next, we must first begin with the sacredness and holiness of God. We are in on something far, far greater than our own needs or even perspective. We start by immersing ourselves in the seriousness of God.
Once you realize that this is a request we routinely return to, it opens the door to this sacred seriousness in all of life. We do not pray for His name to be hallowed and then go about our business. We set our business into the context of His reality.
This request becomes central to every prayer we pray:
- When I wake up, let it be into Your presence.
- As I prepare for the day, let it be for Your purposes.
- As I work and carry out my tasks, let it be to Your honor.
- When I get frustrated or anxious, let me remember Your faithful presence.
- When I am tempted to sin, let me remember You are there for my escape.
- Do not let me be carried along by the world this day, but let me hallow Your name. Be the sacred ground beneath my feet all day.
All of this creation is hallowed ground. Not just because of some important event that took place on it, but because this ground is where God and His Spirit have placed me this moment. This ground is where I can call upon Him to lead me. This ground, by the power of His creation, is filled with the potential of new creation.
Do not let me lose perspective. Hallowed be Your name, every day, wherever I go.