[Jesus said:] “Pray then like this: . . .
Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9 ESV
Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!
The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth? Psalm 113:1-6 ESV
In 1902 there were two U. S. Senators named Benjamin R. Tillman and John L. McLaurin. These two men had been friends who had worked together, but then they started to disagree about things. Over time they became more and more angry with each other, until one day when Tillman gave a speech while McLaurin was in a committee meeting. Tillman started to say nasty things about his former friend, and people told McLaurin what was going on while he was in his meeting. He left the meeting and ran into the Senate to yell at the other senator. Then Tillman started to attack McLaurin with his fists. The two men fought right there in the Senate chamber, and others who tried to separate them also got hit. A committee of senators met to decide what to do, and they said that what the two men did had hurt the whole Senate and been “. . . derogatory to its high character, tending to bring the body itself into public contempt.” Their actions didn’t just shame themselves, but also the Senate that they were a part of.
When Jesus told his followers to pray that God’s name be hallowed, or holy, he didn’t mean to say that God’s name isn’t already holy by itself. What he wanted his people to pray is that God’s name would be holy for them, and also for others through them. When the church teaches things about God that are true and right, and God’s people speak and act in a way that honors him, it makes God’s name to be respected even by people who don’t follow the Lord themselves. But when the church teaches things that aren’t right, and when Christians act and speak in ways that are wrong and shameful, it brings shame and disgrace to God and his holy name. How we live as Christians isn’t only our own business, but it has an effect on the whole body of Christians and on God’s name itself.
Sometimes we might follow the ways of the Lord and speak the truth about him, and still people will treat us with disrespect and even anger. Jesus warned us that this would sometimes happen. But more often, our words and behavior are wrong and sinful and bring shame to our Lord. That’s why we pray that God’s name will be holy among us, so that we live as his people. Jesus came to die for us and to wash away our sins so that we could live as God’s children. He forgives us for the times we bring shame to him, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to walk in his ways and to honor him with our words and our lives.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to honor you with our words and our lives so that your name will be holy among your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.