We are praying our way through the Lord’s Prayer, a phrase at a time, this summer. So far, we have discovered depths of meaning in the first line “Our Father, who art in heaven”. Today we move on to the phrase “Hallowed be thy Name”.
Hallowed is not a common word in everyday 21st Century English. It was much more common in Elizabethan times when the Lord’s Prayer was translated into English. The word means holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered. In modern use, it can refer to long held traditions or significant locations (Gettysburg, cemeteries, and universities, for instance). ‘Hallowed’ can be traced back to the Old English word hālig meaning ‘holy’. Of course, the holiday of Halloween comes from ‘All Hallows Eve’, or the day before All Saints’ Day.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated as ‘hallowed’ is qadhash, meaning to set apart or consecrate or the Greek work is hagiazo with essentially the same meaning of making holy, consecrating, or sanctifying. There are many references in the Bible where the Hebrew word gadhash or the Greek word hagiazo are used. These include: Leviticus 22:32, Exodus 20:11, 1 Samuel 21:6, Numbers 18:29, Jeremiah 17:22, Hebrews 9:2, Revelation 22:11, among others.
Enter the Presence: The phrase ‘Hallowed by thy Name’ might, as we look at it, be a bit perplexing. Are we trying to sanctify God’s name? Isn’t God the One who should do the consecrating? The phrase “Hallowed by thy Name” is part of the entire opening salutation of the Lord’s Prayer. We are addressing “Our Father, in heaven” and acknowledging that the very Name of God the Father is holy.
According to Philip Wendell Crannell, the word “embraces the idea of marked separateness.” Crannell also says “To ‘hallow the name’ includes not only the inward attitude and outward action of profound reverence and active praise, but also that personal godliness, loving obedience and aggressive Christlikeness, which reveal the presence of God in the life, which is His true earthly glory.”
Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V notes, “In these words, we give glory to God…as an adoration; as that, the Lord be magnified, or glorified, for God's holiness is the greatness and glory of all his perfections. We must begin our prayers with praising God…our chief and ultimate end in all our petitions, [is] that God may be glorified; all our other requests must be in subordination to this…[And] We desire and pray that the name of God, that is, God himself, in all that whereby he has made himself known, may be sanctified and glorified both by us and others, and especially by himself…”
So, we are not trying to make God holier, instead we are acknowledging that God is indeed the source of all holiness. By saying, ‘hallowed be thy Name’, we are admitting that God is holy and separate and that we must respond in awe and obedience to that glorious presence in our lives.
Stand In Awe: Sometimes we get too familiar with the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Take some time to sit and pray the phrase, substituting some of the other meanings for the word. Some suggestions might be:
[Father] “Sanctify thy Name”, “Make your Name Holy”, “May your Name be set apart and special”. Think up your own version.
Does changing the wording, change the emphasis for you?
Do you find yourself drawn deeper into the holiness of God by one of the phrases?
Involve your Heart: Think how God makes ‘hallowed’ and holy all life. If you looked at some of the other verses using the word, you will notice that creation, bread (especially the shewbread), and offerings are among the things that are sanctified. How does the fact that everything is 'hallowed' change the way you look at the world?
Make a list of people for whom you would like to pray that they feel surrounded by the holiness of God’s love.
Write the word ‘Hallowed’ or ‘Holy’ in the middle of a page. Surround it with things in your life that you consider holy because they are from God, or like God.
You could add to your ZenTangle or color prayer, if you are doing that.
This week focus on just the words “Hallowed by thy Name”.
Next week we’ll look at the phrase ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.