Set God’s Name Apart

As we continue looking at the Lord’s Prayer, we see the very first petition written by Christ in prayer is not what we would expect. We might expect that the first petition in prayer might be for world peace, or to abolish poverty, or for hunger to be conquered. And yet, though all those things are good and ought to be prayed for, we see that of first priority is the setting apart of God’s Name as holy.

Busying our hands and accomplishing all these humanitarian efforts do not intrinsically set apart God’s name as holy if they are being done by those whose motivation is not in glorifying God by them. An atheist can feed the hungry, a Muslim can pray for world peace, a Buddhist can give all their food to the hungry, yet if the triune God of the Bible is not the motivation behind any of it, it is ultimately an exercise in worship towards someone or something other than the true God.

Contrary to these things, what we see Jesus present to us as the most important thing in prayer is simply this: Before we pray for ourselves, our livelihood, our right standing and forgiveness or even our deliverance from evil, we must first seek the hallowing of God’s name. To “hallow” God’s name means “to set it apart as holy”. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, in chapter 22, we observe the seriousness of old covenant worship to God. And it is God Himself who authors the book and instructs the Levites to be most concerned with how His name will be honored. You see, God is not selfish nor wicked because above all He is jealous for His glory. Why can He do that and remain righteous? Because that is why the entirety of the universe exists: to make much of Him, not itself.

Have you ever considered that no one is infuriated with an appliance that works? No one is upset by a refrigerator which keeps milk cool and meat frozen. Why is that? Because that is what it is made for. In the same way, you, (yes you!) are designed to bring glory to the Name of Almighty God. The book of Psalms writes, ‘The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 53:1 ESV), and again in Proverbs, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,” (Prov. 12:15 ESV). There is an abundant failure to heed the words of Scripture from those who are outright in their godlessness which is utter foolishness.

If it is true that we are called to first and foremost pray for God’s name to be made holy, how do we do it? Jesus tells us how to honor God later in the book of Matthew, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 ESV) It is a recognition of God’s intrinsic holiness, which is at all times worthy of our obedience because He is God. Nothing else in existence is like that, nothing and no one else is at all times worthy of our due obedience and worship. Only God Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The next question would then be, “What are some practical ways to hallow His name?” We can pray that God’s Name would be hallowed as opposed to profaned. We can pray for that to begin in our lives. We can demonstrate to our families and friends that God’s Name is being set apart by how we speak to them, how we think of them, and what we do. Every closet of our heart must reverberate in the praise of the true God in order for His name to be hallowed through us. So will you pray, “God make your name holy in my life” and see His Spirit by grace alone begin to transform you right where you are.

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