In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Matthew 6:9
For all too long, these first two words in what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” have been totally misunderstood and misconstrued by a number of liberal commentators and preachers. They have claimed that these words refer to the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It is very instructive, however, that this passage is a vital portion of the Sermon on the Mount, which was addressed to Christ’s disciples (Matthew 5:1), rather than all of humanity. (It is true that God is the Father of all mankind by His creative act and that all humans are “brothers” in the fact that they belong to the human race). However, God is the Father of only those who spiritually belong to Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. In Matthew 12:48 Jesus asks the question, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” He then proceeds to answer – – “And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother’” (verses 49, 50).
How do we then understand that God is the Father of believers? Think of the greatest father or dad you know about. In this short amount of space I can only hint at what that means: He disciplines, He enables, He encourages, He is an excellent teacher and role-model, He loves, He makes & keeps promises, He is patient and kind, He protects, He provides, He is understanding, etc.
When you place your faith in God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He will place you into His family and God will indeed by your heavenly Father!
If you were to read this passage in the original language, it would have the reading “in the heavens’ (plural). It is rather instructive that the Bible speaks of no less than 3 heavens: the atmospheric, the celestial and the ultimate heaven from which God rules. It is also interesting that at Solomon’s dedicatory prayer at the temple he exclaimed, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You” (I Kings 9:27).
When we pray to God, we must keep several things in mind:
- God is far above and beyond His creation, and he is separate from it.
- He is far greater than anyone. No one can even approach Him – – He is beyond anyone’s reach.
- His creation reminds us that He is all powerful and does just as He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
- God is transcendent. Yet, in His sovereignty He has chosen to have His Son take on human form so He could identify with mankind, but He was without sin! Jesus then died on the cross and arose the third day because of His great love for us. He now offers everlasting life to those who will accept His gracious gift. That’s God for you! So highly exalted and lifted up, yet taking on lowly human form to supply us with everlasting life; which, by the way, we certainly don’t deserve!
“Our Father in heaven” – – what a majestic prayer! He is the only, eternal and true God of the universe, and He invites us to speak with Him in prayer. How gracious of this One who inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15)!
“Hallowed be Your name”
Before we can discuss God’s name, we need to take a closer look at the concept of hallowing. So often we use terminology that we do not understand or we fail to define the language we utilize. When we speak of the word “hallow,” we have reference to that which is holy.
Other terms associated with the holiness of God are His uniqueness, His difference from us, His purity, as well as His being set apart from His creation and from sinfulness. If I were to only use one word for hallow or holy, it would be the word “other!” He is other than we are!
Now, let’s briefly analyze the word “name,” and then combine our thoughts. The concept of “name” in the Bible has 3 major components:
- Identity – – it identifies the individual.
- Authority – – it authorizes the signer.
- Nature – – it tells about who that person is and what he does.
These three components also apply to God’s name – – they identify Him, tell of His authority and describe His nature. Obviously, we do not have enough space in this segment to fully develop all the names of God in Scripture.
God’s name is to be held high and holy! It is not to be abused or taken lightly. It is not to be used (as some do today) as an affirmative or taken in vain. That God will severely punish! (That’s what the third commandment is all about in Exodus 20:7).
In other words, when you pray to God, you need to realize who you are addressing. This is not a flippant or trite prayer by rote! You are speaking to the God who created you, the One who loves you and is offering you the gift of salvation. His name is far above all names! Paul fittingly concludes, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10, 11).