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Hallowed Be Thy Name
“…hallowed be thy name…”
Matthew 6:9

The Lord’s Prayer has six petitions and the first is “hallowed be thy name.” Admittedly, whenever I pray the Lord’s Prayer, there’s a tendency to skim over this small phrase, as it feels more like a statement of fact rather than a petition. What’s more, the term “hallowed” is not a word that we hear very often, so its meaning might be lost on us. The word “hallowed” simply means to sanctify or to set apart as holy and special. The Psalmist captures this idea well in this poetic turn of phrase, “O Lord, our Lord,   how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)

There is something inexplicably beautiful and sublime about the name of God. In fact, it was so revered throughout much of history that it was forbidden even to be uttered (Cf. Leviticus 24). And, at Christ’s exaltation, we read that the Father rewards His Son by giving Him “the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend.” (Philippians 2:10) When we pray that God’s name “be” hallowed, we are petitioning that God’s name be honored and revered by everyone. St. Augustine explains it this way, “When we say Hallowed be thy name we do not mean that God’s name is not holy, but we ask that men may treat it as holy.”[1]

While the Lord’s Prayer (and all prayer for that matter) is directed toward God, prayer also does something to us. God uses prayer to conform us to His will. So when we pray “hallowed be thy name,” the outcome is that God’s name is more inclined to be hallowed within us. This is the first step in hallowing God’s name. Whatever we might petition for God to do in our world (outside of us), we first must ask God to do within us. In this way, prayer is sanctifying—revealing to us and applying God’s will. The result is that every word we speak through prayer is, at the same time, an avenue for God to speak to us.

So during the course of the Lord’s Prayer, when we make the petition “hallowed be thy name,” remember that we are pleading not only that God’s name be revered throughout the entire creation, but also within us. May “God's name may shine forth gloriously, and that it may be honored and sanctified by us, in the whole course and tenor of our lives.”[2]

[1] St. Augustine, “The Sermon on the Mount,” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.
[2] Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer.
The Rev. Alex D. Graham III
Associate for Children and Family Ministries
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