This is part two of a series of Tim Keller's thoughts on the Prayer of Prayers (part one).
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name...
(Luke 11:1-2, ESV)
This first petition is somewhat opaque to contemporary English speakers. One reason is that the word hallowed is seldom used today, and another is that the idea of holiness (the basic meaning of the older English word hallowed) is alien in our secularized society. The third is a seeming problem of logic, expressed by Luther,
"What are we praying for when we ask that His name become holy? Its it not holy already?"
He immediately answers that of course it is holy, but that
"in our use of it his name is not kept holy."
Luther points to the fact that all baptized Christians have God's name put upon them. As name bearers they represent a good and holy God, and so we are praying that God keep us from dishonoring the name by which we are called, that he would empower us to become ourselves good and holy. This petition, however, has a second meaning for Luther, who joins Augustine when he says it is a prayer that God
"be glorified among all nations as you are glorified among us."
It is a request that faith in God would spread throughout the world, that Christians would honor God with the Christ-likeness or holiness of their lives, and that more and more people would honor God and call on his name.
Calvin agrees but adds a thought that goes deep into the heart.
"What is more unworthy than for God's glory to be obscured partly by our ungratefulness?"
In other words, ingratitude and an indifferent attitude toward God fails to honor his name. To "hallow" God's name is not merely to live righteous lives but to have a heart of grateful joy toward God - and even more, a wondrous sense of his beauty. We do not revere his name unless
"he captivate[s] us with wonderment for him."