Sermon: Hallowed Be Thy Name
Scripture: Matthew 6:9
In this week’s lessons, we learn more of who God is, and what it means to hallow His name.
Theme: What God Desires
The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer teach us who those are who can pray and what the privileges of access are for them. We say, “Our Father, who art in heaven,” implying that God may be approached as a father by those (and only those) who have been reborn into His spiritual family. It is entirely possible, however, that a person might be a member of God’s family and know this, and yet know very little about praying. Consequently, six petitions follow, the purpose of each being to instruct us in general terms what we are to pray for and how we are to do it.
The petitions say, “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:9-13).
The most important thing that can be said about these sentences is that the first three are clearly concerned with God’s honor while the second three are concerned with man’s interests and, moreover, that this is not coincidental. Andrew Murray says,
There is something here that strikes us at once. While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and his interests, the Master reverses the order. First, Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will; then give us, lead us, deliver us. The lesson is of more importance than we think. In true worship the Father must be first, must be all. The sooner I learn to forget myself in the desire that he may be glorified, the richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself. No one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father”1
You know, many people think of prayer as something that brings God into line with their own desires instead of something that brings them into line with His will. They sometimes learn that from the prayers of others, and they do it naturally themselves. As children, many persons were once taught to pray:
Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Thus, the idea that prayer consists of presenting a list of personal requests becomes entrenched early in their thinking.
As the person grows older, the pattern repeats itself on a more sophisticated level. The person finds himself offering some small thing to God in return for the thing that he wants from Him. It is the idea of a deal. Jacob did this the morning after he had run away from home to save his life and had seen the vision of a ladder extending up to heaven and of angels ascending and descending upon it. He was worried about his future at that point. Thus he prayed, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Gen. 28:20-22). How noble of Jacob!
Unfortunately, we often pray first for things (that might take us from God), for friends (that might compete for His friendship), or for an ordering of events (that might accomplish our plans, but not His). Instead, we must learn to begin our prayers with thoughts of God’s honor and the advancement of His purposes in history.
1Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1967), 28.
What are the six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, and how can they be divided up?
What misunderstanding of prayer do people sometimes have?
How did Jacob appear to attempt to make a deal with God?
Reflection: Do you pray with the goal of making your desires agree with God’s will?
For Further Study: Jesus gave us this prayer as a guide for what our own prayers should include. But there is another prayer Jesus offered, just before his arrest and crucifixion. Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Real Lord’s Prayer.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)