Hallowed Be Your Name (Matt 6:9b)
Hallowed Be Your Name
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…
In Matthew 6:9-13, Christ gives his disciples a pattern of prayer. It is not meant to be repeated verbatim, though there is nothing wrong with doing so, as long our heart and mind are engaged. It was mean to be a primer and pattern. We are to take the petitions and add our own words and thoughts.
As a matter of review, the first three petitions are consumed with God—his name, kingdom, and will. The next three are consumed with us—our daily bread, our debts, and our temptations. Prayer is first consumed with God and then us. Because of this reality, prayer is one of the primary ways which God conforms our mind and will to his. In prayer, we are made into his image. In prayer, we begin to see the world and our problems in light of God’s power and sovereignty.
The invocation of the Lord’s Prayer is “Our Father in heaven.” For the Jewish mind, this was revolutionary. At the time Christ taught this prayer, Jews would no longer say God’s covenant name, Yahweh. It was too holy. And though the Jews recognized God as the Father of Israel, he was not a personal father. To call him Father would have been disrespectful and even blasphemous. When Christ called God Father, the Jews sought to kill him (John 5:18).
However, the disciples knew that Christ was in a unique way the Son of God. Therefore, it was proper for him to call God, Father. In Psalm 2, God calls the messiah his Son and declares that the nations will be his inheritance and the ends of the earth his possession (v. 7-8). But for the disciples to call God, Father was another story. Again, in their culture, it was disrespectful, blasphemous, and could have led to their stoning.
In the New Covenant, God grants all believers the privileges of his Son. On the cross, Christ took our sin and gave us his righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Therefore, God sees us in the same light as his Son—we are all his sons and daughters. We have immediate access to him, the right to intimacy, and all his resources, as we are co-heirs with Christ. We must know God as Father and grow in relating to him as such. The doctrine of God’s fatherhood is one of the most healing doctrines in all of Scripture. And when we pray to our Father, we develop our understanding and practice of this reality.
After the invocation of the Lord’s Prayer, Christ gives the first petition—"hallowed be your name.” In this study, we will study this petition with a focus on the names of God. We will study these in hopes of faithfully praying for God’s name to be hallowed in the world and in our lives.
Big Question: What does it mean for God’s name to be hallowed and what are some applications of it?
Interpretation Question: What does the term “name” refer to as Christ uses it? How was God’s names used in the OT?
There are two important aspects to this petition—understanding what “hallowed” means and what “name” means. We will consider “name” first. For the Hebrews and much of the ancient world, one’s name was more than what one was called. It referred to one’s person or character. Today, parents often name their children before they are even born. However, in the ancient world, it was common to name children after discerning their character. For example, with the twins Esau and Jacob, the firstborn came out of the womb and they called him Esau because, even as a baby, he was hairy. Since the second born came out of the womb grasping Esau’s foot, they called him Jacob, which means “heal grabber” (Gen 25).
Therefore, when Christ referred to the God’s “name,” he referred to God’s person and characteristics. Whenever God reveals himself by a specific name in Scripture or people call him by one, it represents his character.
Application Question: Why is it so important to know God’s character?
Prominent Names of God
Because of this reality, the petition of “hallowed be your name” is the perfect place to pray the names of God. In the Old Testament, the names of God were commonly used in acts of prayer and worship. In the Psalms, when talking about warfare, they might use Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts (Ps 46:7, 11). God is constantly fighting our battles and giving his angels charge over us. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and he didn’t die, Gideon built an altar to worship God and called it Yahweh Shalom, the Lord is Peace (Judges 6:22-24). He recognized God’s character of peace and worshiped him as such.
No doubt, when Christ petitioned that the Lord’s name be hallowed, many names of God came to the disciples’ minds, which they had probably often used in prayer and worship. We should commonly use the names of God in prayer and worship as well.
Application Question: What are some prominent names of God used in the Old Testament that we can use in the act of prayer and worship?
Yahweh is the most frequently used name of God in the Old Testament, and it is commonly translated as LORD, with all capitals.
Yahweh was the name used by Eve (Gen 4:1), Noah (Gen 9:26), and Abraham (Gen 12:6). But it was with Moses and Israel that it took on a greater significance. When Moses was told to set Israel free, he asked God what name he should call him by and God replied with, “I AM” (Ex 3:14)
(1) This name refers to his “eternality.” He has no beginning and no end. (2) It also speaks of his “independence.” I am because of my mother and father, but God simply is. It also represents his “unchangeability” or “immutability,” as some call it. He doesn’t call himself “I will be” or “I was.” God will always be same, and that is why we can trust him. He doesn’t change. Therefore, when he revealed himself to Israel as “I Am.” It represented those characteristics. When we pray with the name Yahwey, we recognize his eternality, independence, and immutability. We also recognize that he is a God of covenant, as he covenanted with Israel, while using this name.
Next, we will consider a few compound forms of the name Yahweh.
2. Yahweh Jireh: The Lord Will Provide
In Genesis 22, after God provides a lamb in the thicket, so Abraham would not have to sacrifice his son, Abraham named that placed Yahweh Jireh—the Lord will provide. God is still providing for people today. He provides rain and sunshine for the just and the unjust. He provides for our daily bread, and he commands us to bring our needs and cares before him (1 Pet 5:7).
We live in a world with a lot of uncertainty—uncertainty about the economy, future employment, retirement, the education system, etc. God wants us to know that his name is Yahweh Jireh; he is faithful and he will provide. As we pray this name, we recognize that God both knows our needs and will provide for them.
3. Yahweh Rapha: The Lord Who Heals
Yahweh Rapha is a name given by God to Israel while they were in the wilderness. While journeying, they encountered bitter water at a place called Marah (Ex 15:23). However, God told Moses to throw wood into the water, and as the wood entered the water, it would heal the water. After this, God told Israel if they obeyed him he would be their healer. Listen to what he says in Exodus 15:26:
He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.” (emphasis mine)
God also heals us. It is part of his character; God is a healer. He heals us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Certainly, healing is at the discretion of God. Not everybody will receive physical healing in this life. Sin is in our bodies, and therefore, they decay and get old. However, it is often his will to deliver us from physical and emotional weakness. And one day, the great Healer will raise our bodies from the dead (Rom 8:11), and there will be no sickness and no more pain. Our God is a healer. He is Yahweh Rapha—the God who heals us.
4. Yahweh Roi: The Lord Is My Shepherd
Yahweh Roi is the name that David uses of God in Psalm 23. He says, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23:1).
We can be sure that as David was caring for his sheep—feeding and protecting them—that his mind began to contemplate how God did the same for him. Similarly, the Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want (Psalm 23:1). This speaks of the weakness of his children. We are prone to wander; we cannot protect or feed ourselves. Therefore, we need a shepherd that leads, provides, and protects us; a shepherd that gives us rest and makes sure that we lack nothing. God is that shepherd.
In fact, what makes our shepherd so wonderful is that he even died for us. Shepherding during David’s time could be very dangerous. Shepherds were exposed to extreme temperatures, wild animals such as lions and wolves, and even robbers. A shepherd that did not really care for the sheep would simply run away when attacked. But good shepherds were willing to give their lives for the sheep. Christ said this about himself: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
Our Lord is not just a shepherd; he is the good shepherd. He provides for us, cares for us, and even gave his life for us. He is our Yahweh Roi. We must recognize and pray this reality often.
Elohim is the second most used name of God in the Old Testament. It is a general name for God. The word “El” comes from a root that means strong or power, and therefore, has the connotation of “Strong One” or “Mighty Leader.”
Because Elohim’s root means power or might, the name will commonly be used in verses that demonstrate the power or awesomeness of God. For example, Jeremiah 32:27 says: “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” It is also the first name used of God in the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
One of the interesting things about the word “Elohim” is that it is a plural noun that always is used with a singular verb. Because of this, many have seen implications of Trinitarian doctrine in the use of Elohim. The word “Elohim” would then not only be a reference to God’s strength, but it would also imply his “plurality” and yet “oneness.” He is plural, but at the same time one. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut 6:4).
As we pray with the name Elohim, we remember that God is our Creator and that we have purpose. We are not random accidents of evolution. We also recognize that he is transcendent—there is nothing like him. He is a trinity—three in one.
We’ll briefly look at a few compound names with El.
6. El Elyon: Most High or Most High God
The name El Elyon means “the Most High.” The name designates God as the sovereign ruler of all the universe. It emphasizes God’s supremacy and sovereignty over everything. We see this name used in reference to Abraham and his defeat of four kings in Genesis 14. Even though Abraham only had 318 trained men and a few allies, he took on the four kings and their armies and defeated them. The King of Salem, Melchizedek, in response to this victory, blessed Abraham. He said: “And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand” (Gen 14:20).
Melchizedek blessed Abraham by blessing God. He said that El Elyon, God Most High, delivered Abraham from his enemies. This victory was so spectacular that it was clear that it could have only been done through the Most High God—the one who rules over everyone and everything.
The name El Elyon should comfort us because it teaches that God is in absolute control. There is nothing on the earth that happens apart from his control. He is the sovereign over all things. God is in control of random events, planned events, the evil of men and Satan (Eph 1:11). He is in control and uses all for his glory and the good of his people (Rom 8:28). This characteristic of God is a tremendous comfort to people, and we should recognize it often in prayer.
7. El Shaddai
El Shaddai is used when God promises to give Abraham a son at the age of ninety-nine. Genesis 17:1 says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
God was declaring to Abraham, through his name, that he was about to do something impossible. He was about to demonstrate his power through the supernatural birth of his son, Isaac. The Almighty God would give Abraham a son, even though he and his wife, Sarah, were past the age of child bearing.
However, this is not the only time we see God Almighty accomplish things that are impossible. The Scripture is full of his mighty works: He creates the heavens and the earth with spoken words. He delivers Israel from the oppression of Egypt, parts the Red Sea so they can walk through it, and then closes the Red Sea to destroy the army of the Egyptians that was chasing after them. He is God Almighty.
When Christ came on the earth, he spoke peace to raging storms. He multiplied bread and fish to feed the multitudes. The Almighty God did what was impossible. In fact, the greatest work that El Shaddai has done is to save sinful man. Christ said this in reference to the possibility of a men being saved: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:24–26).
It is impossible for men to save themselves. This is what every religion has tried to accomplish from the beginning of time. Like the rich man who sought to justify himself through his works (Matt 19:17–20), the religions of the world have sought salvation through prayer, works of kindness, sacrifice, etc. Because of their works, they have assumed that they can merit salvation before a holy God. However, Christ says that this is impossible. Man cannot save himself. It is something only God can do. Salvation is monergistic—a work that can only be done by God. Even man’s faith is a gift from God in salvation (Eph 2:8–9).
The God who did something impossible in allowing Abraham and his wife Sarah, who were past childbearing age, to give birth, is the same God that reaches into the deadness of our sin and brings new life (Eph 2:1–5). He saves us and makes us new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). He is the same God that is doing miracles today. That is his name because it is part of his character. He is El Shaddai. When we pray with the name El Shaddai, we recognize God’s miracle working power.
8. Adonai: Lord or Master
Adonai is the third most used name of God in the Old Testament, and it is a plural noun similar to “Elohim.” Therefore, many scholars see this as another implication of the Trinity in the Old Testament. The name is translated, “Lord” or “Master.” Psalm 8:1 says: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”
O LORD, our “Master” how majestic is your name. This was a declaration that not only was Yahweh God, but he also was the master of all people. This is important to say for there are many who recognize the God of the Bible as God, but will not take him as Lord and Master of their lives. James confronted scattered Hebrew Christians about the impossibility of this type of faith being salvific. In James 2:19, he says: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”
James says it is possible to believe in one God, be monotheistic, and yet not truly be saved. The demons have orthodox theology as well, but they do not have orthopraxy—they do not submit to him as Lord and Master of their lives. They live a life of rebellion against his Lordship.
The name Adonai reminds us that not only is the God of the Bible God, but he is our Master as well. We are submit to him and seek his guidance. When we pray with the name Adonai, we recognize that God is our master and that we are his servants.
9. Abba: Father
Something new to New Testament thinking was the revelation of God as Father. As mentioned, the name Father is only used fourteen times in Old Testament and never personally. However, in the New Testament, it occurs 245 times. The name Abba can be translated “Father” or “Dearest Father.” It shows the intimacy and care of God for his children. Most likely, this was the name that Jesus taught his disciples to use in the Lord’s Prayer, which was later translated into Greek, just as the rest of the New Testament (Matt 6:9).
In context of the Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed be your name” probably primary refers to Father, as the name of God. Our God cares for us like a Father. He provides, directs, disciplines, and leads us into righteousness, and our desire must be for others to know God and hallow him as Father.
God is still revealing himself to the world today—just like he revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and Israel. Many times new seasons of life and new trials are opportunities for God to reveal a new name to us—a new aspect of his character and person.
As we worship God and pray for his name to hallowed, like the Old Testament saints, we should commonly uses his various names. They are his self-revelation to us, and it should be our desire for the whole world to know and hallow them.
Application Question: Which name (or names) stood out most to you and why? Have you ever used the Lord’s names in prayer and worship? If so, how was it helpful or not helpful? Which name do you feel most called to currently pray and use in worship, and why?
Interpretation Question: What does the word “hallowed” mean?
The word “hallowed” means to “set apart as holy,” “treat as holy,” or “consider holy.” It means to “reverence.” It must be known that hallowed be your name is not a declaration, as many think—it is not simply declaring that God is holy. It is a request—a petition—that others, including ourselves, would declare that God is holy and give him the highest respect, reverence, and worship.
In Psalm 34:3, David says, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” This the heart of the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer—for others to glorify God.
Application Question: In what ways are God’s name hallowed? How does this happen?
1. The Lord’s name is hallowed when people know God and his characteristics.
As mentioned, we can pray for this by specifically using God’s names, as they represent his characteristics. We should pray that people would know Elohim—God as the Creator. We should pray that they would know Yahweh—the God of the covenant, who wants to covenant with them to bring his kingdom. We should pray that they would know Adonai—God as their Master. We should pray for them to know El Shaddai—the God of miracles. We must pray for people to know God’s names and characteristics. He is loving, just, sovereign, and merciful. These are revealed both through Scripture and creation. In all these characteristics, God is absolutely perfect. That is why his characteristics are often called his perfections. We must pray for people to know God’s characteristics.
2. The Lord’s name is hallowed when people know and obey God’s will.
Whenever people disobey God’s will with their heart or actions, they dishonor his name. Therefore, we must pray for people to know God’s Word and obey it. We are praying for those who do not obey God to obey him, and those who obey him to obey him more. When we are obeying God’s will as revealed in his Word, God’s name is hallowed.
3. The Lord’s name is hallowed when people worship God both privately and publicly.
This is a request for people to continually honor God and thank him throughout their days—when working, socializing, and resting. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” To do it in the “name” of the Lord Jesus means to do it in such a way that he is honored and praised. We should request that people will gather to declare the goodness of God and praise his name corporately in church, small groups, prayer meetings, and other places of worship.
4. The Lord’s name is hallowed when people revere God and do not take his name in vain.
If you were going to make ten laws that all people would obey, surely you would include things like not murdering, lying, and stealing; however, God not only included those, but he also included not using his name in vain. In fact, he makes it the third law—right after having no gods before him and the command to make no idols (Ex 20:3-7). This shows how important God’s name is to him. Therefore, to pray for God’s name to be hallowed, it means that every person would speak of God in a reverential way—not a flippant or demeaning way.
We must pray for God’s name to be hallowed in all these different ways—as people know him, obey him, worship him, and honor his name instead of dishonoring it.
Application Question: In what ways is God’s name continually profaned throughout the world today? Why is it so easy to neglect God’s glory and will in prayer and instead focus on our individual glory and will?
The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is consumed with God’s name and it being set apart as holy and not common. Therefore, to truly pray is to humble ourselves before God and pursue him being exalted, as our first desire. As we pray this way, God is not only exalted in our lives but also throughout the world. Lord, hallow your name both in our lives and everywhere else!
Let’s pray for people to know God as Elohim—the Creator God. Pray that God would dispel all belief systems about creation that don’t align with his Word. Pray that people would know they are God’s intentional creation and not a random event or accident of the universe.
Let’s pray for people to know God as Father—that people would be born again and brought into the family of God.
Let’s pray for people to know God as Yahweh Jireh—that God would meet all their needs: social, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Let’s pray for God to hallow his name throughout the earth—that people would know him, obey him, and honor him with their lives.
 Charles C. Ryrie. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 51.
 Charles C. Ryrie. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 51.
 Kay Arthur. Lord, I Want to Know You: A Devotional Study on the Names of God. (The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, 2009), 15.
 Charles C. Ryrie. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 51.
 Charles C. Ryrie. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 57.
 Hughes, R. K. (2001). The sermon on the mount: the message of the kingdom (p. 163). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.