He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name…’” (Luke 11:2b)
The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer is one of surrender, “Hallowed be your name.” I am quite sure this is the petition that makes hypocrites out of most of us. For we can say, “Father” with grateful sincerity, but when we pray “Hallowed be your name,” we say this with the guilty knowledge that, as we pray, there are areas of our life in which his name is not hallowed and in which, furthermore, we don’t want it to be hallowed. When we say, “Hallowed be your name,” we are praying, “May the whole of my life be a source of delight to you and may it be an honor to the name which I bear, which is your name. Hallowed be your name.”
The trouble is that we so frequently know there are great areas of our life that are not hallowed. There are certain monopolies which we have reserved to ourselves, privileged areas which we do not wish to surrender, where the name of our boss or the name of our girl friend or some other dear one means more to us than the name of God. But when we pray this, if we pray it in any degree whatsoever of sincerity or openness or honesty, we are praying, “Lord, I open to you every closet, I am taking every skeleton out for you to examine. Hallowed be thy name.” There cannot be any contact with God, any real touching of his power, any genuine experiencing of the glorious fragrance and wonder of God at work in human life until we truly pray, and the second requisite of true prayer is that we say, “Hallowed be your name.”
But we are not only aware that in each of us there are areas where God’s name is not hallowed, but furthermore we are aware deep in our being that no matter how we may try to arrange every area of our lives to please him, there is a flaw that somehow makes us miss the mark. Even when we try hard we find ourselves unable to do this. But you will notice that this prayer is not phrased as simply a confession or an expression of repentance to the Father. We are not to pray as so frequently we do pray, “Father, help me to be good,” or “Help me to be better.” Throughout this whole pattern for prayer, not once do you ever find an expression of a desire for help in the sanctification of life. No, Jesus turns our attention entirely away from ourselves to the Father. This phrase, “Hallowed be your name” is really a cry of helpless trust, in which we are simply standing and saying, “Father, not only do I know that there are areas in my life where your name is not hallowed, but I know also that only you can hallow them, and I am quite willing to simply stand still and let you be the Holy One who will actually be first in my life.”
The person who lets God be his Lord and surrenders to him is drawn quite spontaneously into a great learning process and becomes a different person. Martin Luther once said, “You do not command a stone which is lying in the sun to be warm. It will be warm all by itself.” When we say, “Father, there is no area of my life that I’m not willing to let you talk to me about, there is no area that I will hide from you, my sexual life, my business life, my social life, my school life, my recreation times, my vacation periods,” that is saying, “Hallowed be your name.” When we pray that way we discover that God will walk into the dark closets of our life where the odor is sometimes too much even for us to stand, and clean them out and straighten them up and make them fit for his dwelling. “If we walk in the light,” John says, (and that is not sinlessness, that means where God sees everything), “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7 RSV)
Father, teach me to say these words, “Hallowed be your Name,” with a heart of both complete surrender and faith that you are the only One who can make me holy.
What is our attitude toward the hallowed name of our Father? Do we use his name with shallow flippancy? Or evading the implications of being his name-bearers? Do we experience prayer as a personal, awesome encounter with our awesome, holy Father?
For more on this portion of Scripture read the message: