“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”
Biblical teaching never gives us information for information’s sake; rather, God’s goal in revealing Himself to us in His Word is to inspire us to action. Sometimes the Lord tells us explicitly the course of action He wants us to take, as in the Ten Commandments. At other times, that which biblical revelation calls us to do comes across more implicitly—as a consequence of studying and meditating upon scriptural instruction. In the Lord’s Prayer, we have an example of an implicit call to action in the first petition of the prayer. We do not pray for the name of God to be hallowed (Luke 11:2) simply to call others to magnify Him or to have our minds renewed with the understanding that our Creator is holy. Both of those things are certainly a part of the prayer. Yet they do not exhaust its significance. In praying for the Lord’s name to be hallowed, we are actually praying for ourselves, that we would be transformed to make God’s priorities our priorities. By praying, we motivate ourselves to pursue the holiness of the Lord and to keep Him the center of everything that we say, think, and do. When we, as the people of God, regularly pray for the Lord’s name to be hallowed, we cannot help but have the holiness of God impressed upon our minds and hearts. As the Spirit works, in turn, we become more focused on our own regard for our holy Creator, and prayer begins to change us. We realize that the name of the blessed Trinity will not be hallowed if those around us are the only ones to declare and adore His holiness; rather, we see more and more that God’s name will not be hallowed fully until we hallow it ourselves. Consequently, praying for God’s name to be hallowed involves praying that we would never blaspheme the Lord in our thoughts, words, and deeds (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 122). It means praying that we would not give others an occasion to stumble (Luke 17:1–2). It involves praying for the Lord to give glory not to us but to His own name—and really meaning it (Ps. 115:1). Beseeching our Creator to hallow His name is not an exercise in abstraction but a concrete way to pray for ourselves, that we might bring God nothing but glory and honor.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Prayer changes us. We cannot hope to love and serve God properly merely by reading His Word and fellowshiping with others, although these exercises do benefit us and our relationship to the Lord. In addition to such things, we must pray God’s Word back to Him and follow His instructions for prayer. By doing this, our hearts and minds come to reflect the Lord’s concerns and those things that He prizes, thereby enabling us to hallow Him as well.