Reflections on Luke 11 – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. [#5]
(2) ..hallowed be your name,
This is something fascinating isn’t it? It’s actually worded as a ‘petition.’ Now why would Jesus be asking us to pray this? Isn’t this selfish of God? Isn’t it a ‘grovelling’ kind of thing to be praying? After all if God is so great, isn’t he above any petty misuse of his name by us?
So what is this all about? Well, I’m no theologian, and having read some of the theological stuff on this petition I’m still not entirely satisfied by most of the explanations and conclusions. That’s probably my problem, not theirs, mind you. But one thing sticks out for me after a month of chewing the cud on this prayer.
Our first thought is that justice and peace on Earth would be more vital things to pray about. We humans don’t immediately connect that with this ‘hallowed be your name,’ UNTIL we stop and reflect how crazy this world is becoming, how unmoored from the old but vital values (virtue, respect, honour, justice, dignity of life) we have become, BECAUSE we have thrown the mooring cables to God’s rock of stability and meaning overboard. If there is not a holy and righteous creator, what point of any appeal to man to holiness and righteousness? And there’s the point!
Only if God is real, only if he is holy, only if he is equally omnipotent, loving, AND holy does life then demand to be lived through these values of virtue, kindness, justice etc. Virtues that are subjective and mirages, whimsy; virtues grounded in God’s omnipotence and holiness are gripping and persuasive. Indeed, our mission, our ‘good news’ revolves around the hallowing of God’s name.
I find in these four words also a kind of ‘falling in behind God’ in the request, “Lord, make your name holy. And help me to treat it as holy, and extoll it so!”