Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Matthew 6:9b (NIV)
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Matthew 6:9b (NLT)
I have a bread knife. It’s holy. I’ve had it for almost 20 years—it’s as sharp today as it was the day I purchased it. I have only used it to cut bread. After which, it’s wiped it clean, returned to its protective cover and placed back in the drawer. I have many other knives, too. This one is special—it’s holy.
I came home from work to find my holy bread knife in the sink with pizza sauce on it. The pizza stone was on top of the stove with distinct cut marks on it. My husband was watching a movie—oblivious to what was about to happen.
I freaked out! I might have scared him a bit. Because, I rarely go berserk, but when I do I’m not usually holding a knife. I shrieked and explained how THIS knife was special—it has ONE purpose and that is not to be drug across a pizza stone! I explained how I thought he could understand that (my husband has many holy things). Since this knife was simply a tool to be used to cut his pizza, it was not holy to him.
I don’t think Terry’s touched that knife since.
The term “Hallowed” isn’t used much anymore. It’s most common use is to refer to the “Hallowed halls” of a grand, old institution. That use may cause you to think hallowed means archaic. For the most part, American society doesn’t have many hallowed institutions or people.
If hallowed doesn’t mean old, what does it mean? A close definition is holy—and I’m not sure that helps us understand—unless one investigates that word.
The disciples who listened to Jesus’ teaching had no problem understanding the words Jesus used. The Temple was arranged in a way that you, as the person coming to God, understood—God is holy. If you didn’t get it from the structure of the Temple, the Pharisees, with all their religious rigmarole would set you straight.
Hallowed. Holy. Set-apart. Different. My bread knife is set-apart for a special purpose but it’s not technically holy. God is holy—God is not like the humans He created.
Praying to a God Who is Holy
It’s no mistake that Jesus’ first instructions for prayer were:
- You can come to God as a child comes to a loving father.
- God is holy.
It seems Jesus is offering a confusing situation. A loving father that is set-apart, different—superficially, that does seem odd. Instead of leaning to one side or the other, try understanding Jesus’ phrases from the point of view of the middle.
To those disciples listening to Jesus, God was a far off entity to be reckoned with. The notion that God is a loving Father had probably not entered their minds. If you view God as only a daddy, your relationship with Him will be out of balance and unhealthy. You’ll catch yourself wondering why your daddy-god didn’t bail you out when you were in trouble, why you can’t get ahead, find THE spouse, THE job, or have THE perfect life.
While God is a loving father, He is also holy.
God is not man—remember that when you come to Him in prayer. God is special, set-apart, different—HOLY. He is not to be taken lightly. He has a distinct character—one that never changes. In the Jewish tradition, the names of God reflected His character traits. The call for His name to remain hallowed, or honored, was a call to recognize that God is different. Those who claim His name carry the obligation to honor God’s character by living a life of honor.
God’s holiness is all about HIM. When you come to God in prayer, you come to a God who loves you but who will not compromise His holiness to bend to your agenda. He is holy—set-apart, different. As a child coming to a loving Father, it’s your duty to guard your Father’s good name –to uphold and live out His character.
Father, as I live out my life remind me I can come to You anytime for anything. Also, remind me that as one who calls You Lord, I must live in a way to bring You the honor Your Holy name deserves. Give me the strength to bring honor to You today.