St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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The Petition: Hallowed be Thy name.

The Commandments show us what we are to do and not to do, and that because of our sin, we are not able to keep them perfectly. The Creed is God’s answer to us where we confess how God has created and sustains us, redeems and restores us, and sanctifies us. Thirdly, then, we learn how to respond to God’s mercy through prayer.

Now, some in our modern, anti-tradition, sanitized, rationalized version of the Christian faith insist that the Lord’s Prayer should not be prayed, but that we should simply use it as a model for our prayers. Oddly enough, those who insist in such silliness hardly ever follow it as a model and end up praying more about themselves and making prayer a purely emotional exercise where, the person who exhibits the most emotion wins the best “prayer warrior” competition. If some person insists that the Lord’s Prayer is merely a model and that we ought not pray it verbatim, then it behooves him that he actually model it because if our Lord only intended it to be a model, then it is the perfect model and we ought to model it rightly.

But, sticking to the clear words of our Lord, when He teaches His disciples to pray, He says, “when you pray, say (as follows)…” (Luke 11:2) and He is not simply setting a model but giving them an actual prayer meant to be prayed.

Some object and base it on Matthew 6:7, where Jesus says, “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” What the pagans used to do was say the same words over and over and over again, all in one sitting because they believed that their many repeated babbles and long-winded prayers would be heard by their false gods. It is clear that Jesus wasn’t condemning using a regular prayer, or memorizing a prayer and using it often, but He was condemning what the pagans did, hoping their many words and babbles would exhaust their god and manipulate their god to do what they want. The simple fact that Jesus prescribes a prayer to be used just after this verse is evidence enough that He does not condemn godly prayer, repeated or otherwise, but was condemning babbling, long-winded prayers without meaning. After all, ROTE memorization and remembrance is a big part of being a child of God but babbling, long, empty prayers driven more by emotion and less by substance is not.

The Lord’s Prayer is broken into an Introduction, seven Petitions, and a Conclusion. The first petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” simply asks our Heavenly Father that His name be holy among us. For God’s name is holy whether we pray it or not, and He doesn’t need our prayers to be God or holy. But we need His holiness among us, that we use His name properly and call upon it as He teaches us, and that we trust with all our hearts that, in our baptisms, His holy name is given to us, and we are called His holy children.

And as His holy children, we are to use His name rightly, use His gifts of Word and Sacrament in holy ways, and to live as holy people in the world rather than live as the world. This is what it means that His name be hallowed among us.

Prayer: Holy Father, many Your name be hallowed in me that I trust in Your goodness and mercy, repent of my sins, and live a life pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.