Blog Entry
The Lord's Prayer

WHat's in a Name?

April 23, 2018

The First Petition

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean?

God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.

How is God’s name kept holy?

God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!

We introduce ourselves by name so that others will get to know us and relate to us.  And our names all mean something important… to us personally… and to others more publicly.  My name is “Russell”:  In French it means reddish.  My nick name growing up was “Rusty”.  But here’s the odd thing.  I’ve never had red hair.  My last name is Kampfer.  In German it means “to Fight or Struggle” as in Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” or “My Struggle”.  But I have nothing to do with Adolf Hitler.  These personal names mean little to me.  However, when I adopted the name PASTOR, that name meant something special to me.  Pastor is the Latin word for SHEPHERD.  This is who I am and this is what I do.

We all have names.  Whether you like your name or not… you need it.  Some of those reasons are extremely important.  For example, the IRS calls upon it for income taxes.  The Bank calls upon it for a mortgage, or interest.  Your mother or wife calls upon it so that you do the dishes, make the bed, vacuum (whatever).  Your boss calls upon it so you do your job.  And so on.  We have names because of our relationships.  If you were the only person on earth… (and there was no God) you wouldn’t need a name!

We begin our relationships with names.  We meet someone and one of the first things we say is, “What’s your name?”  (And then we quickly forget it… and we know that’s not good.)  

Now, going back to last week, we call our God, “Our Father who art in Heaven!”  And, no he’s name is not Art.  But the opening words we use in the Lord’s Prayer invokes the first person of our God Our Heavenly Father!  It’s the specific, all-powerful, ever-present, all knowing God of the Bible.  Not any god that we imagine or create.  But the same God who created all things, sustains all things and loves us so very much because of His Son’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.  If our prayers are to have any meaning or purpose at all using God’s name properly will make a huge difference!

Jesus said these words just after He taught the Lord’s Prayer to His disciples, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  As Christians, we honor (hallow) God’s name as Our Father when we call on Him in faith, proclaim His love for us and live according to His Word.  

In the Lord’s Prayer we are actually praying to use God’s name properly.  The Bible is clear that we should never use God’s name improperly, or in vain (as if God didn’t exist in all his power, love and majesty).  God and His name cannot be separated.  His name includes who He is, what He does and His very presence among us.  Be very careful, my friends.  Don’t take God’s name lightly.  When we call upon Him, whether we are aware of this or not, He is present even as He is Ever-Present!  This can be GOOD, and this can be BAD.  Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them."  That’s Good.  Just calling on a name comes with a promise.  He is there as we need Him.  We don’t have do to some good work to get Him to listen.  We don’t have to make ourselves worthy.  By faith alone in His Son, by virtue of His death and resurrection, He hears.  And the Holy Spirit makes this faith possible, not us!  God makes ALL things possible.  So now we may speak with Him in prayer.

But there is a down side.  Misuse of His name can be devastating. As when we are angry and call on His name as if we were faithless.  And sometimes we are unwise and unfaithful with His name.  As some were in Corinth when they failed to see that Jesus is truly PRESENT in the Lord’s Supper because His name was invoked with the bread and wine.  So, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we need to be “mindful” of God’s presence.  Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  Ephesians 4:1, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called."  

God listens to us as Christians.  He hears our prayers.  Its only wise and proper that we get to know what He has to say to us.  We need to further our training.  We need to crack open our Bibles and learn.  We need to be engaged in worship and growing in the faith.  All this that we might see deeper with the heart, and not be distracted by the eyes that see only what the world has to show us.  All this that our ears may hear what God’s Word has to say, and not be distracted by the voice of the world.

Prayer: Holy Father, Your name is holy in itself. We pray that through the words we speak about You and through the lives we live as those marked by Your sacred name in Baptism, we may never profane Your name but honor it in all that we say and do; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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