Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.”
This week we venture into one of the most familiar texts in all scripture. That familiarity may cause us to miss some of the subtleties and tensions. If we take the time to read the scriptures meditatively, we begin to discover all sorts of new things. Questions start to arise; intrigue lives beneath the surface of our reading. Today we will look at the request “hallowed be,” which is ripe with curiosity.
The phrase “hallowed be” is imperative in the Greek language. That means it is a command or petition. When we pray “hallowed be,” we ask God to be hallowed. Is God not already holy? How can the holiest one become more holy, and more importantly, who are we to tell God what to do? What could be missing from God’s holiness other than our understanding of it? In other words, the only thing missing from God’s holiness is that not everyone sees him as holy.
In light of my meditation on this prayer, I will sometimes pray it like this; “our father in heaven, may you be seen and appreciated as holy be me and everyone.” I find it interesting that Jesus challenges us to pray for God’s help in hallowing his name. This is a prayer for God’s reputation as good, beautiful, kind, worthy, and holy.
Have you ever overheard a conversation where someone spoke poorly about someone you love or respect? Defensiveness may swell in your chest for the person you care for. The prayer, “hallowed be,” may come from a similar emotional space. We want others to see and appreciate the goodness of our Father, but we cannot always change their minds, so we ask our Father to make himself hallowed. This can also be a prayer for our hearts to hallow God. When we have doubts or fears about his nature, we might pray that God would make himself hallowed to us.
As with each other phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, this one invites us to be a part of the answer to our prayer. Today, pray what Jesus tells you to pray, “hallowed be your name.” Now ask him, what he might want you to do today to help his name be more hallowed by people you interact with. You may want to pray something like, “Father, how can I make you be seen as good and holy by someone today?”