Matthew 6:9b

Setting and Overview
After introducing the Lord’s Prayer (“so pray this way”) and giving the opening address (“Our Father in heaven”), Matthew 6:9 continues with the first petition: “Hallowed be your name.” Although the language used is uncommon in today’s vernacular, the overall message and meaning of the invocation is clear, and as we look deeper into its significance, we see why Jesus puts it as the first petition of the model prayer.
 
Exposition
Although most versions open the petition with “hallowed,” it is helpful to look first at the object of the petition. Throughout the Bible, we see the word “name” used in a way that reflects the significance it had in Semitic culture. In the Old Testament, we see the name of God be used to refer to His presence, fullness, or power (Isaiah 30:27, Deuteronomy 12:11.) To call upon or boast in His name is to worship Him (Genesis 12:8.) Furthermore, we see calls to serve in His name in Deuteronomy 18:5, and in the New Testament we are told to gather (Matthew 18:20), believe (John 1:12), and pray (John 14:13) in Jesus’ name. All of this reflects the fact that a name was understood to reflect character and identity (Exodus 34:5-7, Psalm 20:5-7, John 17:6, 11, 25-26.) We see this further emphasized by the names of God that we are given in the Old Testament, such as Most High God (Genesis 14:9), Most Powerful God (Genesis 17:1), Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33), I AM/Yahweh (Exodus 3:14-15.) Further, we see extensions of Yahweh in several places as names of God or names of memorials that reflect what God has done, such as The Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14), The Lord will sanctify (Exodus 31:13), The Lord is peace (Judges 6:24), The Lord of Heavenly Armies (I Samuel 1:3), The Lord is our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), and The Lord is there (Ezekiel 48:35.) When we address God as “Father,” all of those names should still be fully understood even in that familiar address.
The petition itself is for God’s name to be “hallowed” or set apart (John 17:15-19.) To be hallowed means that it is distinct from everything else, not to be mixed in or confused with anything else. While God’s character is certainly completely distinct from anyone else, for something to be “hallowed” can reflect not just its nature, but also how others see or perceive it (I Peter 3:15, Deuteronomy 28:58.) So, the petition is really not just that God will be set apart from all else (which He always has been and always will be), but that all people would recognize that He is and obey and worship Him accordingly (Ezekiel 20:10, 36:23, Malachi 1:11, Philippians 2:9-11.)
 
Examination and Application
When we go to God with this petition, we are requesting that He will fulfill it in all people, and we certainly recognize that the world does not now hallow His name in the way that it should be, but that doesn’t mean that we should look past what is expected of us. Certainly to not take God’s name in vain is included (Exodus 20:7, Matthew 5:33-37), but it also goes far beyond that. It involves referring to Him and thinking of Him at all times in a way that is distinct and above anything else in our lives. It also involves living in a way that reflects what it means to bear the name of God and to be called to be separate as He is (Deuteronomy 28:9-10, I Peter 1:14-17.) In the Old Testament, God condemns Israel for profaning His name by how they treated others (Ezekiel 22:6-8) and by giving insufficient sacrifices (Malachi 1:6-9.) In the New Testament, we are called to set Christ apart as Lord by living with a character and boldness that reflects who He is and our relationship with Him (I Peter 3:8-15.) As we recognize that responsibility however, we should keep the focus on the ultimate goal of the petition. While it calls on response by us, the ultimate focus is not on us but on God. He is concerned for His name and will one magnify His name among all of the nations (Ezekiel 36:23.) To that we look forward, and for that, we pray.  
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