You may be surprised at what the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer really means.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Every time I study the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, I discover something new – something I never saw before. One such revelation occurs right at the beginning. As Jesus is helping His disciples learn how to pray, He starts with Our Father in heaven.This is a personal address to God, and the personal address ends there. Everything that follows is a petition.
I had always assumed that the next line, Hallowed be your name, was part of the address, as if we were to say, “Heavenly Father, Your name is holy.” Recently, I discovered that this is not the case, and it changed my understanding of Jesus’ point.
Hallowed be you name was Jesus’ first petition. His point was that we should be praying that God’s name would be hallowed and that God would be regarded as holy. There’s an important sequence here that we must understand. The next line is Thy kingdom come. Jesus wants us to understand that His kingdom will never come where His name is not revered (considered holy). In other words, His will can’t be done here on earth as it is in heaven if His name is desecrated here. In heaven, God’s name is holy. Every heavenly creature knows it, and acknowledges it. Throughout heaven God’s name is revered. Here on earth, this isn’t the case. Not even close.
AS I SEE IT
Our understanding of the person and character of God affects every part of our lives, not just the “religious” part. Since God created the entire universe, He is certainly Lord of every part of it. No part of this world is outside of His lordship. Since He is holy by nature, this means that His holy character has something to say about politics, economics, and every other part of our lives. Since He is omnipresent, there is nowhere we can go to escape from Him and His lordship.
We were called to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). Stop and let that sink in. We have been called to holiness. We must not ignore this. It’s extremely important to God. We must not become so absorbed in our “religious activity” that we fail in what’s most important. Let’s face it, unless we make a concerted effort to walk in the holiness that has been reckoned to us, we will find ourselves like the Israelites in the time of the Judges, doing what seems right in our own eyes. It’s easy to look down on them for not wanting God as their king. It’s easy to judge them for wanting to be like the nations around them, but are we really all that different?
When we watch the news, don’t we judge what we see and hear according to what seems right to us? Don’t we tend to approach politics according to our liberal or conservative views? Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. God, however, is much more concerned with our own personal holiness. Believing the right things means nothing if our lives are far from holy, and we live in a culture in which God’s name is regularly cursed and trampled upon.
The widespread disrespect for God’s name reveals an underlying disrespect for God Himself. To witness the truth of God’s assessment of mankind in Romans 3, we only have to look around us and listen to the ways God’s name is routinely mocked and disgraced.
The same was true in Jesus’ day. Perhaps this is why Jesus started His exemplary prayer with “Hallowed be Your Name.” What was true in His day is still true today. For the Kingdom of God to come, God’s name must be revered as holy, starting with us.
Have you ever considered what you are really asking for when you pray the Lord’s Prayer? I believe that if we were living truly holy lives, we would see and respond to everything differently. Over the next six months, I will be interspersing articles on the holiness of God to help us walk in the awesome gift of God’s own holiness. I think this is a journey worth taking. Only then will we have fulfilled our responsibility in ushering in the kingdom of God.
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