The Lord’s Prayer and the Holiness of God “Hallowed be Your name”
Dr. Kris A. Jackson
God has eternally wedded the doctrines of justification and sanctification, and as in any divine marriage, what God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Many in our day seek to divorce the two but the union can never be annulled. It is not so much that holiness is demanded of God, but rather, it should be desired of the believer. The Lord’s Prayer is the chief example of what the sanctified believer wills. He wills the will of God. His or her aim is selfless. The request is not, “My kingdom come, my will be done”, but rather the purposes and honor of the Father are chosen over personal ambitions or want.
Because the redeemed believer longs to be transformed into His image, the divine presence is pursued. Faith looks up to God in all His perfections, the foremost being God’s holiness. And so, early in the Prayer, Jesus set himself apart to God who also is set apart, “Hallowed be Your Name”.
1. The Father is heavenly but also holy
We speak often of the Heavenly Father, but in Gethsemane’s quiet Jesus prayed to His “holy Father” (John 17:11). Notice, seraph angels never cry“worthy, worthy, worthy”, though God is worthy, or “love, love, love” though God is love. They declare the signature attribute of the Triune God, “holy, holy, holy”.
2. This daily prayer seeks daily purity
Obviously, the Lord’s Prayer is meant as a daily model for prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread” assumes that prayer is to be the key that unlocks every morning. No facet of the prayer is more vital than another. As we need daily provision we similarly need daily purity. Jesus beheld the Father’s face every morning and hallowed, sanctified, or set the Father apart, with special honor (Mark 1:35). We bathe every day physically. There is also a spiritual hygiene that washes in the Word with each new day.
Holiness, or hallowedness, is not a Sunday experience alone. “Hallowed be Your Name” suggests that every menial activity of every weekday should be devoted to the Lord. “In that day HOLINESS TO THE LORD shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar” (Zechariah 14:20). Imagine a day when the stable is as spiritual as the sanctuary, where common kitchen vessels are set apart for God’s glory no less than the sacraments of the communion table. Leather straps harnessed around the horses’ necks are devoted to God just as the golden chains girding the High Priest’s vestment.
3. No one who honors His name in private willingly disgraces His name in public
I like to call the Lord’s Prayer “Closet Communion”. Image is what is seen outside the prayer chamber, integrity is what is seen within. “Hallowed be Your Name” is the password for entrance beyond the veil. The reason we need to daily pursue and then entertain His presence is because it changes us from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) and properly dresses us for the rest of the day.
Those who appreciate private intimacy with God become very protective of the Glory of God. The spouse who has a deep, abiding, intimate relationship with his or her mate never disgraces that mate in the world’s company. To hallow Him is to honor Him. The sincerity of the communion within the holy place is validated by the conversation and conduct without.
4. Prayer is the ultimate unmasking exercise.
The young opportunist announced, “I am Esau”, taking advantage of his nearly-blind father. Years later, confronting his own carnal nature, the fugitive confessed, “I am Jacob”, a cheat, a deceiver, a swindler. It is impossible to pretend while in the Presence. There is no one to fool in the secret place. God knows our hearts and every detail of our lives. So, prayer is the ultimate unmasking exercise.
“Hallowed be Your Name” is acknowledgement of who He is but also confession of what we are. It is the safest Doctor’s examination. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23,24). No believer should fear the probing because our holy God is also a healing God. Confession opens the fountain of cleansing and cleansing reveals the true character of Christ within us.
5. What is not inspected deteriorates, what is inspected improves
The statement needs little explanation. If you never attend to your teeth the outcome is predictable. A house needs care and occasional repair. Automobiles must be serviced and the oil changed from time to time. Soul-care is no different. The hallowing and unmasking is key to the transforming. The High Priest carefully inspected the sacrifice. Are we not living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God?
Most people are skilled at circumspection, judging everyone around them, or retrospection, judging how they would have done a thing had they been in charge, but the greatest need is for introspection, looking in the mirror at the condition of our own hearts. It is important that we show sobriety and order at the Lord’s Table but equally important that we do so when it comes to the Lord’s Prayer. Closet communion is daily confrontation with the old nature – “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31).
A surgeon scrubs his hands before entering the operating room. Mother demanded that we wash our hands before sitting down at the dinner table. “Hallowed be Your Name” is confession that we need Him to live in and through us or we will naturally revert to the control of our fallen natures.
6. What you rub against rubs off on you
Get around someone exposed to chicken pox and you will likely catch it. Hang around a group of gossipers and their negativity will rub off on you. Bathe yourself with faith-inspiring words and it will reflect on the countenance. Get alone with God on a daily basis and the glory will be as evident to all as it was when Moses came down from Sinai, having to veil his glistening face.
7. If you start the day praising Him you will spend the day pleasing Him
In closing, Paul offered a keen insight – “If the root is holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:16). If the root of the day, the early-morning, begins hallowed, so goes the rest of the day no matter how it branches out. You feel better all day after a shower in the morning. Prayer is to the soul what a shower is to the body. Prayer is to the spiritual lungs what disciplined exercise is to physical health.
If you start the day honoring Him, you will spend the day hearing from Him. If you start by praising Him, you will likely end the day still pleasing Him. What a joy it is for the believer to be justified (past tense), sanctified (present-tense), and soon to be glorified (future-tense). Righteousness is His gift to us. Holiness then is our personal consecration and gift back to Him. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).