The Name Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Matthew 6:9

"Hallowed be thy name."

This is no doxology. It is a prayer. It is the first of three prayers concerning God Himself.

1. What is a "name"? What is it for us? A name is the brief summary of a person. The use of a name, the object of each man having a name, is to supersede the necessity of interminable descriptions, and to set before us, by a sort of telegraphic dispatch, the whole person - face, form, and properties - of him whom we know and of whom we would make mention. The "name" is the catchword which renders amplification needless by bringing up to us the person - figure and qualities and characteristics in one. The name is the man. The absent, distant, inaccessible man is made present to us in the naming of the name.

Even thus is it with the name of God. When Moses prayed, "I beseech thee, shew me thy glory" - and when he was told that to see the Face of God was impossible, but that he might be privileged to behold some sort of back look and (as it were) retrospect of His Person - we read next that the Lord descended, passed by before him, and, in answer to that prayer for a sight of His glory, proclaimed the name of the Lord. Now what was that name? Was it the "Jehovah," the "I Am," of the original revelation? Read it as it lies there at length in the 34th chapter of the Book of Exodus, and you will see that the name of God is, in other words, the sum of God's attributes, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." God, such as He is, in mercy and righteousness, in boundless compassion and just judgment - that, that is His "name."

2. Learning what God is, we ask that His name may be hallowed or held sacred, regarded by all as a true and holy thing that is at any cost to be maintained in esteem, and under all temptation still believed in. May the idea of God which He would have us to possess be held as the choice possession of our spirits, the treasure on which our hearts rest, and to which they ever return; may it be held separate from all contamination of our own thoughts about God; and may it never be obscured by any cloud of adversity tempting us to think that God has changed, never lost sight of by any careless devotion of our thoughts to other objects and names; never presumed upon nor polluted as countenancing folly or sin, but cherished still and guarded as "the holy and reverend name of the Lord."

It is to be noted that this petition stands first of all the petitions in the Lord's Prayer. It is the very first thing that a disciple thinks of as he begins to pray, indicating what must be our first business on the first day of every week - to hallow God's name. Nothing else is to take precedence of that. Other things may follow. Before the day is over it will be right to offer a prayer for daily bread, but that can wait till later. Even the prayer for forgiveness of our sins comes later, and the prayer for deliverance from temptation comes later. In Christ's order earliest of all stands this petition that the name of God our Father may be hallowed.1 [Note: W. R. Richards, A Study of the Lord's Prayer, 45.]

to be continued