Hallowed be Your name

Matthew 6:9-15 –  Hallowed be Your name, as sermon by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

(The second sermon in a series on the Lord’s Prayer.)

Like most of you, Maggie and I have been a bit housebound this past week. Not being to visit people has meant that there’s been a bit more time to prepare the little daily devotions and sermon, catch up on some reading, and doing the paperwork that for some reason always seems to build up. But there’s just so much of these things you can do before your brain goes into meltdown…. so when late evening comes around, I’ve also been watching a few things on television and on Netflix. Have you noticed how difficult it is to find programs or movies that you can watch without having to be subjected to all sorts of profanities? And it’s become ever more acceptable in today’s society. On talk shows, in the newspapers, in the movies and even in the so-called family quiz programmes it seems that no matter where you turn, this has be­come commonplace. Words that wouldn’t have been acceptable even just a few years ago are now used daily. But what is especially striking is how much more often the name of the Lord is taken in vain. Phrases such as “O my gosh” or “O my goodness” or “goodness gracious” have been replaced with the Lord’s name or with an acronym like OMG. And as a general rule it’s not viewed as something that’s wrong – the view is that that’s how people speak nowadays.

But friends, although this is increasingly common, it is not all new – as the Preacher in Ecclesiastes reminds us:[1]

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

Looking back across the centuries, no names have suffered more abuse than those of the Father and of Jesus Christ. Whether used as a curse or in casual or formal conversation, the names of God and Christ are more often than not treated with disrespect or disdain instead of with the veneration or exaltation they deserve. And brothers and sisters, sadly it’s not just in secular conversations or on tv or in the movies that this happens. But as Christians our first task in life, our purpose in life or as the Westminster Shorter Catechism says “our chief end” is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. God is to have priority in every aspect of our lives. We are to glorify God in our lives by how we live – and folks, we are to exalt and glorify Him in our prayer lives as well.

When we looked at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer last week, we learnt how Jesus gave us a prayer that is a template or a model for our prayer lives. We learnt that the part “Our Father in heaven” is foundational to what follows in the rest of the Prayer. We learnt that Jesus author­ised those who believe in Him to also pray to God in the most personal way, calling Him their Abba, their dearest Father. We’ve also learnt that despite the intimate and personal relation­ship that we have with our heavenly Father, we shouldn’t forget that God is still God. He’s still the Almighty Creator God – and because He’s still God, we still have to approach Him in awe, with reverence. Just like Moses had to remove his sandals when he stood on holy ground, so we need to approach our Abba with holy reverence too.

And as we now move on to the second part of verse 9, we see that same reverence and awe on display when Jesus says “Hallowed be Your name.” This is the first of three petitions that focus on God and it is also a central part of the prayer, for the glory of God’s name is the ultimate end or aim of all things. You see, Jesus wasn’t just reciting some rehearsed words here – No, He’s showing us even today where our primary focus should be – seeking the glory of God.

To best understand what this petition means we need to look at the two component parts – we’ll look first at what “Your Name” refers to before we look at what it means to hallow that name.


[1] Ecclesiastes 1:9.