After lingering last week on the opening address of the Lord’s Prayer we now turn to the opening petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “…hallowed be Your name…” (Matthew 6:9b). In this first petition we find one grand request and two grand desires that result from it.
In this opening petition we find the pattern of all things. ‘Hallowed’ means to sanctify, to venerate, to treat as holy, to make much of, and to glorify. ‘Name’ here in Matthew 6:9b is the Greek word ‘onoma’ which not only means name, but carries with it the idea of one’s reputation. Therefore, taking these things into account tells us the first thing we come before God in prayer asking is that God, and specifically God’s name and reputation, would be hallowed, made much of, and glorified. Taking this phrase into your heart and breathing it out as praying looks like praying something like, “Our Father in heaven, the concern nearest to my heart and the one that shapes all other requests is that Your name would regarded as holy, that Your fame would be heralded in the all the earth, that You would be honored among the nations, that Your glory would be magnified for all to see. O Lord, be pleased to cause men everywhere to take pleasure in You, that You might be praised now and forever…help us to really know You, to bless worship, and praise You for all Your works and for all that shines forth from them…help us to direct all our living…so that Your name will never be blasphemed because of us but always praised and honored.”
I say that in this opening petition we find the pattern of all things simply because in it we do. God does all things for the great glory of His name. Therefore we want God, in all the aspects of who He is to be glorified and made much of. If you scoff at such a thought remember it is not self-flattery for God to do pursue His glory. When one of us craves the attention and praise of others we call it flattery because we understand the root of such behavior is insecurity and we therefore seek the praise of others to cheer us up or give us a kind of meaning or purpose. God is not like us. He needs no one, He lacks nothing, and He doesn’t need our praise to cheer Him up.
If I were to suggest that I should be given a Nobel Prize for mathematics I would be suggesting something entirely ridiculous. I am horrible at math and need a calculator to solve the most basic of equations. More so, if the Nobel committee gave me the award they would be functioning in an entirely ridiculous manner too, I don’t deserve it. But if a brilliant mathematician suggests that he win the prize and has the resume and work to prove it, for the committee to not give it to him would be as wrong as giving it to me. In a much greater and more lasting way, we do something entirely ridiculous ourselves when we keep glory for ourselves and not give it to God, who deserves it forever.
The lesson today is brief and simple: because God’s chief priority is the glory of His name, the chief priority of our prayer should be the same. This is the grand request of the Lord’s Prayer. In this sense we can see that the opening petition of this prayer could be seen as something more than petition, we could see it as adoration. And while the opening address “Our Father in heaven…” fills us with a solid confidence, the first petition “…hallowed be Your name…” fills us with a proper reverence.
We can continue on this point further. The grand request in the opening petition of the Lord’s Prayer is nothing else than what is summed up in the last sola of the Reformation, Soli Deo Gloria which means all believers are to aim at God’s glory not only in all of our prayer, but in all of our life. In an age as ours, one of deep self-centeredness and narcissism, Soli Deo Gloria is a call to reject the man-centered life and embrace a grand and sweeping vision of the God-centered life in all of life’s many facets. Everything we do, we’re to do to God’s glory, so it is true to say that only the glory of God gives the right purpose for all of life.
But…focusing Soli Deo Gloria solely on human conduct is imbalanced because it fails to reflect Scripture’s careful presentation of the topic. Many times Scripture does call us to glorify God in our worship, a couple of times Scripture does call us to do all things for the glory of God, but you know we see more of in Scripture when the glory of God is in view? In most of the references to the glory of God Scripture is speaking of that glory as a way of describing who God is. From promise to fulfillment, from progression to completion, or from Genesis to Revelation God’s glory is displayed as something growing from seed into full blossom, especially as He reveals Himself in the culmination of history in the Person of Jesus Christ. Thus the glory of God is, as James Hamilton says, “…the weight of the majestic goodness of who God is, and the resulting name, or reputation, that He gains from His revelation of Himself as Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and Redeemer, perfect in justice and mercy, loving-kindness and truth.” Or as Herman Bavinck said, “The ‘glory of the Lord’ is the splendor and brilliance that is inseparably associated with all of God’s attributes and His self-revelation in nature and grace, the glorious form in which He everywhere appears to His creatures.”
So yes, the glory of God is about living all of our lives to the glory of God, and even praying with priorities that reflect God’s own priorities, as made clear here in this opening petition. But remember, before the glory of God is about us, before the glory of God is about our prayer even, the glory of God is about who God is. That truth itself should focus and drive our prayer and life toward God’s glory, which is why I think Jesus commands this petition before anything else.
I began with these opening thoughts because I don’t believe we can get into this opening petition without first reorienting ourselves to a proper posture in viewing the glory of God as about God in Himself first before our conduct for God. Now we can go on and discuss how this specifically relates to prayer. So remember “…hallowed be Your name…” is a prayer, it is the first request in the Lord’s Prayer. I want to ask a question at this point: what happens this prayer is answered? What happens when our Father in heaven is glorified? What happens when His name is hallowed? Two grand desires begin to stir and grow within us.
Grand Desire 1 – Increase
When God answers our prayer for His name to be hallowed He will stir within us a desire to want all that honors His name flourish and increase. There is both a personal and global element to this. So then, what is it that honors or glorifies God?
Grand Desire 2 – Decrease
When God answers our prayer for His name to be hallowed He will stir within us a desire to want all that dishonors His name perish and decrease. As before, there is both a personal and global element to this. So then, what is it that dishonors or defames God? I asked this question a few weeks ago during a Sunday evening worship and this is what we came up with. Take a look at it and see how you’d answer it this.
 Kevin DeYoung, The Good News We Almost Forget, page 219.
 Heidelberg Catechism Question 122
 Christopher Ash, Job – The Wisdom of the Cross: Preaching the Word Commentary, page 46.
 Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Matthew – John: Volume 5, page 60.
 Alfred Plummer, Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, page 98.
 Few people have described this better than David VanDrunen in his book God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life.
 David VanDrunen, God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life, page 27.
 James Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, quoted in VanDrunen, page 23.
 Herman Bavinck, quoted in VanDrunen, page 26.