There are not a lot of examples in the gospels of people asking Jesus to teach them something. But in Luke 11, Jesus’ disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Perhaps more amazingly is that Jesus teaches them to pray in just fifty-odd words (about 290 characters by my count – just a little more than a tweet!)
In the next 8 blogs, we’ll look at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. We’ll do this slowly and allow the truths of Jesus’ teaching to shape and encourage our prayer lives.
Hallowed by your name
3rd May 2021
We have seen that Jesus teaches us to address our Father who is in heaven as we come into the place of prayer. When we pray with others, we can too quickly pray as though we are addressing people around us – we can become concerned about what others are thinking, or if we’re saying the right thing, or whether we sound impressive enough. And we might have said, ‘Our Father’, but we are not speaking to Him. One of the most encouraging things in a prayer gathering is being able to listen in as someone speaks naturally and freely to our Father.
The First Request
The Lord’s Prayer now moves onto the first request – 'hallowed by your name'.
Often when we ask, ‘what will we pray for?’ we automatically think of our own needs or those of people we know. It is a clear demonstration of our own natural self-centredness and it is so easy for us to bring that obsession with self into our prayer lives. But Jesus teaches us to ask for something else first – that God’s name would be praised. Andrew Murray points out how striking this is. We ordinarily bring our own needs to God first and then think of what belongs to God. Jesus reverses this:
First: Your name, Your Kingdom, Your will
Then: Give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us.
“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.”
Psalm 148 says,
“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13)
We see the Psalmist giving us a few reasons to praise the name of the LORD.
First, the name we praise is God’s covenant name, Yahweh (denoted in our Bibles as LORD in capitals). It means I AM. Or, in slightly longer form, when Moses asked God's name, God responded by saying I AM WHO I AM. God’s name points to his holiness, his very otherness. The fact that there is none like him in all of creation is seen in his name. His name reveals to us that He is like no other, that He has no rivals, that He alone is God. And therefore our prayer is that His name would be praised.
Second, his name alone is exalted. His covenant name does not only remind us of the holiness and character of God but also of all that He has done for His people. Psalm 148 goes onto praise God for raising up a horn of salvation for his people. And, of course, we know that Jesus has been given the name that is above every name – the only name by which sin can be forgiven. And so we praise the name of our Father for all that He has done in sending Jesus to die for us and exalting Him over everything.
Thirdly, God’s reign extends over the whole of earth and heaven. There is no limit to His majesty, no boundaries that are ‘off-limits’. Earlier in Psalm 148, praise is described as coming from throughout the galaxy – from the sun and moon to the sea creatures and livestock. As Abraham Kuyper wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
And so we cry, ‘hallowed be your name’. We ask that our Father will be acknowledged, praised and spoken of in a way that reflects his holiness and glory.
How does this affect us as we pray this week?
Praise God for His holiness. Exalt his name for all that He has done. Acknowledge His reign over every single part of creation and over single part of our lives.
Repent of the times when our own self-obsession may have invaded our prayer lives. Pray God would teach us the greatest lesson of our lives – that He matters infinitely more than we do.
Ask that God would help our fellow brothers and sisters at Calderwood to increasingly adore the name of God, to exalt God in our lives, and delight in His glory.
Take time to reflect on how we can make these words true in our lives - "Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory" (Psalm 115:1)
Next - 'Your Kingdom come'