Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

First Petition of the Lord\'s Prayer

March 7 - Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean? God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy? God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

The first thing that we pray for after addressing God as our Father is for his name to be kept Holy among us.  It is obvious that God is not asking for us to pray that He is Holy.  He is God and by definition needs nothing.  We are crying out to God that he would make us holy, because we see by his Law that we are not holy.

This tells us the priority of our prayers; we need to ask God to make us holy so we can speak and live properly before him. Only God can grant this petition.  Without it, I have no confidence to come before him or ask him anything.  Make me holy by what I say and do!  Help us to make your name holy.
Of course, we first have to ask, “what is holy?”  Holy is something that is special, set apart.  Something that is holy is not treated like everything else.  It gets a special place in our lives and gets priority.  Something that is holy is sacred and will cause us to sacrifice for it.

God’s name is holy, so we should ask that we use it and live it as such.  This reminds us of the second commandment that God will not hold guiltless anyone who uses his name as common or in vain.  I see how often I break that, so I ask God to cause his name to be made holy in me.
This is quite a prayer.  It tells me that God must work in my life.  It tells me that when I speak, I must be willing to trust God.  That I will not use his Name for a lie.  Nor will I use God’s name that is less than who He is.  This drives me to reverence, fear, awe, worship, and joy.  This is no small thing and no man can do this on his own.  He needs the Holy Spirit.

Luther here is brilliant in this realization.  Twice in his question, “How is God’s name kept holy?” he stops to pray. “Help us to do this dear Father in Heaven!”  And at the end to not profane God’s name, he writes, “Protect us from this Heavenly Father!”  Luther is queuing us in on how to read the Catechism and to help us in praying.
I cannot keep God’s name holy, so I pray for God to grant me this.  I easily misuse and profane God’s name, so my prayer is that God would protect me from my own lips that speak wrongly about God and profane his saving name.  And to also guard my footsteps so that I will not live wrongly under His name.

This petition is crying for us to see our pitiful need before God as beggars and children and to see his bountiful goodness that when we pray that God would make his name holy in our lives, he answers it like he answered Christ, “I have made it holy and I will make it holy again.”  John 12