If your parents were anything like mine, you heard repeatedly, “Don’t forget your last name”; or, “Remember who you represent”; or maybe, “Remember your actions will reflect on our family name.”
They weren’t telling me to think about the word “Davey” as I went about my day; they were concerned with the reputation that would be associated with “Davey” by my attitudes and actions.
This rings true for the citizens of a country. I am an American, and Americans have created a reputation for certain actions. I recall walking the streets in a foreign country, noticing people staring at me with measures of concern. The missionary whispered to me that they assumed that I—as an American—carried a gun. That kind of reputation had been created by American movies and media.
A name is more than a name—it’s a reputation.
Is it any wonder that Jesus would teach us to pray, “Hallowed be your name” (Luke 11:2b)? In other words, we are to express our care and concern over the reputation of God’s name.
This phrase “Hallowed be your name,” carries two key actions as we pray. It functions both as a declaration of truth and a call to action.
First, godly prayer declares the truth of who God is.
The word hallowed means “to consider holy or sacred,” and it is a recognition of God’s attributes— who He is. This invites us to respect, revere, and appreciate our holy God.
So, when you pray in this manner, you are declaring your reverence for who God is. So, just who is He?
In the final few chapters of the book of Job, God takes Job on a field trip through creation in order to reveal some of His actions and attributes:
- God commanded the morning and made the dawn know its place.
- God laid the foundations of the earth and created its measurements.
- God designed the animal kingdom with all their instincts and beauty.
- God entered the currents of the sea and controls the oceans.
- God spread the heavens out like a mirror.
- God is surrounded by majesty and dignity and splendor and glory.
How’s that for a resume? When you pray, you are reflecting on the greatness of our all-powerful, Creator God; you are declaring your desire to consider His name hallowed—holy and altogether sacred.
If that was the totality of what is implied in God’s name being hallowed, we could spend hours on our knees and still not find enough words to express our reverence for our great God.
Second, godly prayer takes responsibility for the reputation of God.
While God doesn’t need us to defend His reputation, He invites us to wear His name. Just like the name you inherited from your parents at birth or adoption, you have been given the family name of God.
Just as your parents reminded you to “live up” to your name, Jesus is challenging us to take seriously the fact that our actions as believers reflect on our name. Not just the last name of your signature, but your adopted name: Christian.
One author described the heart of this prayer when he paraphrased it to say “Lord, I want to go public with your glory.”
“Hallowed be your name” is the only prayer request in the Disciple’s Prayer that we have a direct role in answering. God certainly can protect the reputation of His name, but so can we! This prayer request is a challenge to live a godly life for the glory of God.
As believers, we can never assume that the people we meet in the traffic patterns of our lives have a correct understanding of God. It’s up to us to reflect His character and integrity as we publicly demonstrate our family allegiance. I remember hearing once that “our lives are the only Bible many people will ever read.”
Beloved, the moment someone knows you are a Christian, your life becomes a reflection of His name. If you’re immoral, they will assume that God doesn’t really care about moral purity; if you’re lazy, well, God must be undependable; if you’re unkind, God must be vindictive; if you’re a liar, God must not care about honesty.
God’s reputation is at stake in the way we act. So, guard His name and protect it. Let’s learn to pray this prayer request and then answer it in our own lives!