‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Hallowed Be Your Name
This should confuse us. Even if for a little bit.
Why does god need us to declare that he is God?
It’s a discontinuity of recognition.
C.S. Lewis declared at one point that he could not understand the psalms ceaseless devotion to praising God. Was the almighty so narcissistic that he needed our praise? It was a good question. The answer that eventually came to Lewis was this: a principle part of enjoyment is praise.
If you like a meal, you compliment it.
If your friend helped you through a troubling time, you thank them.
If you had a good run, you grunt in satisfaction as you stretch – always stretch after running.
This however does not really account for adding the words Hallowed be thy name. It would be nice if it did, if this were an outflowing of praise.
Instead what we get is this discontinuity, God is God, but we here are called to hallow, not keep hallowed his name. It is a prayer to God, which implies that this is part of a request and part of the requests that follow. By God’s power is God’s name hallowed.
Which makes sense. Hallowed means to make holy or to be holy, and only by God’s power can anything become holy.
This discontinuity recognizes something true about us.
We do not know that God is God in our hearts, minds, lives, communities, churches…
We find it much easier to live as practical atheists – when we say we believe in God but our hearts and minds are far from him. Recognizing God, means accepting what God is doing, wants to do, and will do in us, with us, through us, and even without us.
This little clause makes this implicit: we need to be reminded every day about who God is to us.