The Lord’s Prayer – Part 4 “Hallowed Be Your Name”
Last week we considered the preface to the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father in heaven”. We considered his Fatherly goodness and our childlike reverence. We talked about coming before God with “heavenly affections” that give us hope for the future and confidence in the present. We recognized that we are praying to a God who is Sovereign and full of grace. This does not weaken our responsibility to prayer but strengthens our resolve in prayer. Nehemiah wept and fasted for days over the devastation of Jerusalem, but he still came before God acknowledging his steadfast love and faithfulness (Neh. 1:4-6). Finally, we noted the fact that “Our” implies the necessity for corporate and intercessory prayer.
Read Luke 11:1-4
WLC 190. WHAT DO WE PRAY FOR IN THE FIRST PETITION?
In the first petition, (which is, Hallowed be thy name,) acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright, we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him, his titles, attributes, ordinances, Word, works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by; and to glorify him in thought, word, and deed: that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him; and, by his overruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory.
OUR UTTER INABILITY AND GOD’S ENABLING GRACE
In the first petition, (which is, Hallowed be thy name,) acknowledging the utter inability and indisposition that is in ourselves and all men to honor God aright,
We do not come to God in prayer because we have gained access for ourselves. When we consider ourselves we recognize just how incapable we are. “Indisposition” refers to our reluctance or lack of enthusiasm to pray. It is proper that we should begin praying by acknowledging just how weak we are to pray. We come before God in humility. By declaring his holiness we begin with his uniqueness and our own insufficiency to properly honor him (2 Cor. 3:5).
But because we pray to a loving Father we can pray with David, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15). We know that we are insufficient in ourselves, but as he enables us to speak to him, praise flows out. You might be inarticulate, and clumsy at first. You might have long pauses between thoughts. That’s all understandable and okay before our Heavenly Father.
we pray, that God would by his grace enable and incline us and others to know, to acknowledge, and highly to esteem him,
As we might imagine, the Psalms are particularly helpful in teaching us to offer God our adoration in prayer. We want the ways of God and his salvation to be known everywhere. We want to see all the nations praising God (Psalm 67:2-3). We can ask that people would learn that God reigns and that they would submit themselves to him and praise his “great and awesome name” (Psalm 99:1-3). We want others to declare his holiness too.
When we have a right respect for God we begin to address him by his titles. Instead of using his name in vain we want to hear people acknowledging that God is the Lord Most High (Psalm 83:18). They will begin to learn about his attributes as well. Adoration is about praising God for who he is. We can honor him for being great, superior, true, loving, gracious, and faithful (Psalm 86:10-13, 15). This is primarily seen in the way that he carries out his redemptive plans. He has delivered Christ, and all who are united to him from death.
If God has ransomed us for himself then it is proper that we would also learn something about his ordinances and his Word. We ought to grow in our own esteem for God’s Word, but we also want to see his Word esteemed by others (2 Thes. 3:1). We can praise the Lord that we have his Word in our language (Psalm 147:19-20) and pray that all peoples might have that privilege. We should prioritize Bible reading above every other subject. God has exalted his Word “above all things” (Psalm 138:1-3). Paul speaks of believers as spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere (2 Cor. 2:14-15). How do they do that? By speaking God’s Word in sincerity and not as salesmen (2 Cor. 2:17).
We can also begin to recognize his works, and whatsoever he is pleased to make himself known by. We might use all of Psalm 8 to guide our appreciation of God’s general revelation. But this is also something that we can simply do wherever we find ourselves. Taking time to pause and appreciate the world in which we live. We can see something of God’s order and beauty in the way that he has made all things.
We have been created to glorify God, so we ask him to enable us to glorify him in thought, word, and deed. This is the basic purpose of the prayer of invocation before each worship service. God has called us to worship him, now we ask for his help in doing so. We want to engage our whole being in worship. We ask our soul to “bless the LORD” (Psalm 103:1). We ask God to receive our words of praise as well as the meditations of our hearts (Psalm 19:14). We pray for an increase of love that is coupled with knowledge and discernment so that we might be pure and blameless for Christ’s return and “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ,” (Phil. 1:9, 11). Since God made us we belong to him. So we give him thanks and praise (Psalm 100:3-4).
GOD’S NEGATION OF DISHONOR TO HIM AND THE ADDITION OF HIS GLORY
that he would prevent and remove atheism, ignorance, idolatry, profaneness, and whatsoever is dishonorable to him.
If we give God praise for his holiness, then we want to pray for the removal of everything that clouds his holiness. As the nations turn to God, ignorance is being replaced by faith (Psalm 67:1-4). As more people live according to “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” hope replaces doubt (Eph. 1:17-18).
We ought to pray boldly that idolaters are brought to shame (Psalm 97:7), that God would defend his cause against fools who revile him (Psalm 74:18, 22-23). Hezekiah asked God to hear and see the mockery of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:15-16). We look to our sovereign God to rule over the nations that despise him. We ask for him to execute judgment on those who oppose the people of God (2 Chron. 20:6, 10-12). Psalm 83 is one example of an imprecatory psalm that calls for God to bring judgment upon those nations that conspire against the people of God. We can also pray that we would be preserved against their violence and that God would thwart the plans of the wicked (Psalm 140:4, 8).
and, by his overruling providence, direct and dispose of all things to his own glory.
Rom. 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
We have seen several hymns in Revelation that proclaim God’s divine attributes. The hosts of heaven declare his glory, honor, power, wealth, wisdom, might, thanksgiving, and blessing (Rev. 4:11; 5:12, 13; 7:12). Just in these four statements of heavenly praise, there are four attributes described. There is a lot of repetition in our adoration. Sometimes we disparage songs with a repetitive chorus. Many of those songs do repeat the wrong lines, but the concept of repetition is not necessarily bad. When it comes to adoring his attributes, it is to be expected.
This catechism question argues that praising God for his holiness requires humility and his enabling grace. But we can certainly say the right words without truly understanding or knowing what we are talking about. The fact that this answer is so robust implies that we are talking about true adoration. It is an adoration that comes from the depths of our heart. This is why we need the help fo the Spirit in our prayers. He places us in the right posture and transforms our affections so that we desire to glorify God ourselves and see the removal of everything that dishonors him.