If you’ve ever heard someone talk about “the Lord’s prayer” (Luke 11:1–3), you’ve likely heard them explain about how that model prayer begins:
“Father, hallowed by Your name.”
Attention is given to addressing God as “Father.” That, indeed, is rather unique. There are a number of times in the Old Testament where God is referred to as the Father of His people (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4, 19; 31:9). In addition, there are times when the Lord is identified as the father of a particular individual (e.g., 2 Samuel 7:14; 1 Chronicles 17:13; 22:10; 28:6). The only example of someone crying out, in prayer, to God as Father appears to be found in Psalm 89:26. Thus, Jesus inviting His disciples to speak to God in prayer as Father is compelling.
But it is the rest of this first line that might be the most challenging: “Hallowed by Your name.” Just what does that mean?
The word “hallowed” is an old-fashioned way of referring to something being “sanctified” or “made holy.” Holy doesn’t, fundamentally, refer to something that is “not sinful,” but something that is “not common.” Something holy is something that has been set apart as totally unique and special. (Like the ground around the burning bush when God appeared to Moses; Exodus 3:5). To refer to God’s name is a way of referring to all that He is–His character and nature (as in Isaiah 48:11; Ezekiel 20:14). So this phrase about hallowing the Father’s name is about having all that He is set apart and recognized as unique and holy.
But notice, this is not a veiled set of instructions given to the disciples. This is not a call to them to “honor the Father as holy” or “strive to make His name hallowed.” This is a prayer; a request for God to do something. This is a plea for God, the Father, to manifest Himself in such a way that He is seen as unique and glorious and holy.
God is fully committed to putting His own glory on display; passionate about making Himself known (as with the Egyptians when He was delivering His people from bondage; Exodus 6:6–8). And Jesus is teaching His followers–and us–that the most basic prayer we can offer is to ask God, the Father, to make much of Himself.
Can you recall when, in your praying, that was uppermost in your mind and heart? Can you remember the last time you prayed this kind of prayer? That God would make much of Himself in our world and in your life?