by Julia Sterne
April 30, 2012
3 min read
For the next few weeks we are reflecting on The Lord’s Prayer. In the last post, I talked about Imagining God as Father. This week, I want to focus on a phrase that made absolutely no sense to me as a child: Hallowed be thy name. I was not sure if they were saying that God’s name was literally “Hallowed” or if God was supposed to be called “hallowed” and even if so, I had no idea how to “hallow” him.
I am sure I am not alone in the confusion. Hopefully not. Even as an adult it is a weird, archaic way of saying something. It feels Shakespearean at best, and out of touch at worst. As I said in my last post, spending such a wonderful season dwelling on the Lord’s prayer I have had quite a lot of time to figure out what this phrase has come to mean for me today.
To break this down I am busting out my nerd skills. And by nerd skills, I mean the ability to read a dictionary.
To “hallow” means “to make holy or set apart for holy use”. The word “be” in this phrase probably means “to have reality”, “to occupy a position”, and “to happen or take place”. In this way we can rewrite our simple lesson from Jesus.
Pray saying: God, make your name holy; set it apart as holy. May your name become known as a name to be revered, a name worthy of our respect, a name worthy of exaltation. Your name is to be seen as righteous and perfect, because it is.
Praying this way has dramatically altered my old confusion about “Hallowed be thy name”. In one way it acknowledges who God is, a god of righteousness, purity and holiness. Simultaneously, as we worship him as holy, the words ask God to continue to make his name known as holy. It is an intimate prayer declaring who God has revealed himself to be to us and in the same moment a missional prayer asking God to continue revealing himself to us and the world around us.
Only Jesus can capture this beautiful prayer in such few words.
I used to want to ditch the words and update them with a newer, hipper, and well, easier phrase. “Your name is rad”. But it doesn’t have the same appeal does it?
But now that I have come to understand the meaning these words hold, I cannot imagine saying anything but …
Hallowed be thy name.