2018 12 09 pm The Priority of Hallowing Matthew 6:9b

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

The Books of the OT were written in Hebrew and the books of the NT in Greek.  So our English Bibles are translations of Hebrew and Greek.  And you probably know that there are a variety of English Bible versions – you have the ESV, the NIV, the NASB, the KJV, the NKJV, the RSV, and the HCSB just to name a few.

And the existence of so many Bible versions has to do with different translation philosophies, changes in language over time, and, if we are honest, money-making.


And if you have ever been in a Bible study where different versions are being read out, you will know that despite the fact that the overall message in each Bible version is the same, there can be times when you lose your place because the words used or the order of words varies from one version to another.

And one of the reasons for this, as I mentioned a moment ago, is the way that language changes over time.  So in the KJV, for example, there are words that we simply do not use any more.  For example, does anyone know what Bewrayeth, holpen, rereward, wist, and ambassage mean?


So you might think then that ‘hallowed’ would be another of those words.  I mean, when was the last time you used the word ‘hallowed’?  I think the only times I have heard it used are in reference to churches as hallowed ground or the hallowed turf of Eden Park or Wembley Stadium, but it certainly is not a commonly used word anymore.  And yet, despite this, all of the major English Bible versions have stuck with this word in the Lord’s Prayer; all of them.  It is a word so associated with the Lord’s Prayer that it has hung around despite not being commonly used.


Well, according to the dictionary, hallowed means reverenced, honoured, feared, venerated, elevated, separated from the common, regarded with feelings of respect and reverence, considered exalted or to be in awe of, holy, sacred, consecrated, sanctified, blessed, or sacrosanct.


But what does the word mean in the context of the Lord’s Prayer?  What are we praying for when we say, “Hallowed be your name”?

And we are going to think about this as we consider the priority that should be given to hallowing God’s name, hallowing God’s name as the purpose of our prayers, and finally the point of Hallowing God’s name.


  1. So firstly then, the priority that should be given to hallowing God’s name.


  1. Boys and girls, priority means to put first. If your Mum gives you a list of things to do, then usually the first thing on the list is the priority; the thing that needs to be done first.
  2. And as we continue our tour of the Lord’s Prayer, some interesting points about the priority in our prayers become evident:
    1. Notice, first of all, that “Hallowed be your name” begins the requests part of the prayer; we are now asking for things. And the first three requests have to do with God: “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  It is only after we have prayed those three God-focused requests that we come to the “us” requests: “Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  So the general priority in this prayer is God.
    2. And as we look at the God-focused requests, the first of these is “Hallowed be your name.” So the priority in prayer is that God’s name would be hallowed – treated with reverence and honoured and glorified and praised.  This is why the preacher and author, A.W. Pink, said, “We cannot pray aright unless the honour of God be dominant in our hearts.”


  1. And when you study the prayers of the Bible, this is exactly what you see:
    1. The Psalms do this. And the Psalms are so helpful as we think about prayer because they are prayers!  And many of the Psalms begin by announcing and declaring and exalting the honour and glory of God:
      1. Earlier we sung a paraphrase of Psalm 13. It begins and ends with these words: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”  In other words, Hallowed be your name.  And you find this throughout the Psalms.
      2. But the prayers in the NT do this also: Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Jude 1:25 is another example: “To the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”  Hallowed be your name.


  1. Do you boys and girls know why we were created? Do any of you know what man’s chief end is?  WSC 1 – To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  So if we were created to glorify God, and we have been saved by grace alone through Christ alone, then what we should want most of all is to glorify and thank God.  What should matter most to us is not our needs or even the needs of others, but God’s glory.
    1. The preacher and commentator Martin Lloyd-Jones put it like this:

It does not matter how desperate they may be, it does not matter how acute the tension, it does not matter whether it be physical illness, or war, or a calamity, or some terrible problem suddenly confronting us: whatever it may be, we must never fail to observe the order which is taught here by our blessed Lord and Saviour.  Before we begin to think of ourselves and our own needs, even before our concern for others, we must start with this great concern about God and His honour and His glory.  There is no principle in connection with the Christian life that exceeds this in importance … If only we would always start in prayer with the true sense of the invocation; if only we were to recollect that we are in the presence of God, and that the eternal and almighty God is there, looking upon us as our Father, and more ready to bless and to surround us with His love than we are to receive His blessing, we should achieve more in that moment of recollection than all our prayers put together are likely to achieve without that realization.  If only we all had this concern about God and His honour and glory.

  1. So is that how it is with your prayers, brothers and sisters? Do you give priority to glorifying the name of God?  Do you typically take time to speak about God’s glory and majesty?
  2. And I ask you this for your own sake but also for the sake of our children. You see, our children learn a lot about God and prayer and our relationship with God as they listen to our prayers.
    1. I am sure you have seen news stories about very young children who are at the dentist because their teeth are absolutely rotten. And it turns out that from a young age they have been fed sugary fruit juice or fizzy drinks by their parents.  So their parents were feeding them but they were feeding them the wrong stuff; they weren’t getting the type of food or drink that helps them to grow in a healthy way.
    2. And in the same way, if your children hear you regularly getting straight to your ‘shopping list’ in prayer; God, please give me this and please give them that, even if the requests are good needs, then they will be spiritually malnourished. They need to hear you hallowing God’s name as the priority in your prayers.  They need to hear that your most important desire is for God’s name to be glorified and thanked.


  1. So hallowing God’s name is about how we begin our prayers. But in the second place, it is also about the purpose of our prayers.


  1. I am going to read you a portion of Psalm 106 where the Psalmist makes an US request, but I want you to listen to why he wants what he is asking for: “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.” So the Psalmist wanted the people to be rescued from exile so that God’s name would be glorified.  The purpose of His prayer was that God’s name be hallowed.
  2. In John 17, the Lord Jesus summarized everything He did while on earth in this way: He said, Righteous Father, “I have brought you glory on earth.” There was a popular book written some years ago that had the title, The Purpose Driven Life.  Well, the purpose that drove Jesus to speak and think and behave as He did was to bring God glory.
  3. And in 1 Peter 4, Peter provides believers with a long list of instructions about godly behaviour and the purpose for living this way – He says we are to love one another and show hospitality and be self-controlled and to use our gifts to serve others “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
  4. What this means then is that whatever it is we are asking God for should be so that His name is honoured and adored.
    1. Let me give you an example of what this looks like in prayer:

Lord God, great God of love and majesty and faithfulness, please do this that I and others may have added reason to give you thanks and praise for your steadfast love.  But if it not be your will to do what I ask, give me peace and contentment and strength that I may testify that you are still worthy of thanks and praise because you are always good to your people.  And may it be that everything I do in relation to this matter serves only to shine the light of your glory before men that Jesus Christ may be Lord and Saviour of all …”

  1. Do you see how different this prayer is than “Lord, please give me…Amen”? Do you see how prayers like this hallow God’s name?


  • So, hallowing the name of God is also about the purpose of our prayers; whatever we ask God for should ultimately be so that His name is glorified. But thirdly and lastly, let’s also consider the point of hallowing God’s name.


  1. You have heard me give you a definition of hallowing. You have heard an explanation about why hallowing God’s name should be our priority in prayer and the purpose of our prayers.  But why is it “Hallowed be your name”?  What is the significance of the reference to God’s name in this request?
    1. Well, earlier we read from Psalm 20. And the first verse of Psalm 20 says, “May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”
    2. So let’s think about that for a moment. Boys and girls, imagine that you have waken up at night because you heard a scary noise and you call out to Dad to come to you.  So after Mum elbows dad in the ribs a few times to get him to wake up, Dad gets up and goes to your room and you tell him the problem.  So Dad then gets up and goes out of your room for a few minutes and comes back and pins a piece of paper above your bed with his name on it.  Do you think you will feel safe now that you have Dad’s name on the wall?  Or do you think you would prefer Dad to check the cupboards and look under the bed?  But Psalm 20 says, “May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”  And you find this focus on God’s name throughout the Bible.
    3. Well, that’s the difference, you see, between us and God. Our names are really just our titles.  I am not an Andre, Andre is just my name/title.  But God’s name is who He is.
      1. When Moses asked God for His name, God said, “I am who I am.” God is not a being who has a title – God is His name; He is living and eternal and almighty and all knowing.
      2. And what’s more, God’s name is not just who He is, but also what He does. In Exodus 34 we are told that the Lord came to Moses “and proclaimed His name, the LORD.  And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”  You and I might choose to be compassionate and to do something loving, but God IS compassion and love and holiness and goodness and faithfulness and justice and saving and providing and leading and guiding.
    4. B&S, young people and B&G, I really commend to you the study of the names of God in the Bible. Google will help you with this.  For example, there are 18 primary names for God in the OT that are built around the Hebrew words El and Yahweh:

He is Elohim – God the strong one,       He is El-Elyon – God Most High,

He is El Roi – the God who Sees, He is El-Shaddai – God, the All-Sufficient One,

He is El Gibhor –  God the mighty,   He is El Olam – God, the everlasting

He is El Eloah – God the True God,  He is Adonai – The Lord,

He is Yahweh – The Self-Existent, eternal One,

He is Yahweh Jireh, The Lord Will Provide,

He is Yahweh Rapha – the Lord Who Heals,

He is Yahweh Nissi – The Lord My Banner,

He is Yahweh m’keddesh – The Lord Who Sanctifies Us,

He is Yahweh Shalom – The Lord is Peace,

He is Yahweh tsabbaoth – The Lord of Hosts,

He is Yahweh Rohhee – The Lord My Shepherd,

He is Yahweh tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness,

And He is Yahweh Shammah – The Lord who Is There.

  1. But God is also the Creator, the Author of Salvation, the Defender of Orphans, the Deliverer, Father, the Resting Place, the Potter, the Redeemer, the Tower of Safety, and the Strong Refuge. And these are just some of His wonderful names.  And they are so beautiful and descriptive and packed with meaning.  It is perfectly OK for you to pray ‘Dear Lord…’ but I am sure you can see how learning the different names of God will add a depth and richness to the content of your prayers.  And that is the point of hallowing God’s name.  It helps us, as the catechism says, to know God, to bless, worship, and praise God for who He is and for all that He does.


It is why we read Philippians 2:1-11 earlier.  For there we read that Jesus left heaven and took to Himself a human nature and humbled Himself to the point of dying on the cross.  But Jesus is risen and ascended!  And “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

So yes, hallowing God’s name is about beginning our prayers by praising Him, and it is about having God’s glory as the purpose of everything we pray about.  But those things are only important to those who confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.  And if this is our reason for living, then surely we will want others to hallow God’s name also?  May God help us to glorify Him and thanks Him in all that we do.  Amen


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