“When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name…”
The first lesson that Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer is a mechanical one. Jesus teaches His disciples who they are to pray to. We are to pray to the Father; this implies that we must first be children of God. John 1:12 tells us how we can become children of God, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” We are to receive Jesus as our Savior to become children of God. Once we have received Jesus we have the blessing of being able to call God our Heavenly Father. Many Christian parents start their children off on the wrong foot when it comes to prayer as they sit down and teach their children to pray, “Dear Jesus”. This may seem like a small thing, but it is in direct contradiction to God’s Word and the instruction that Jesus gives on how to pray. When we pray we are not to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we are to pray to the Father. When we pray to the Father we are also to pray in Jesus name and in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we pray to the Father it rightly lays the foundation to be able to see all Three parts of the Trinity right in our prayers.
Jesus not only gives us a mechanical lesson on how to pray, but He also gives us a lesson on priority in prayer. The word hallowed means to make holy or to sanctify. The overarching idea is to set apart the Father’s name in prayer. The first implication we can plainly see in setting apart God’s name in prayer is that prayer is to be serious. This doesn’t mean that prayer must be formal, but it does mean that prayer is not to be a joke in our lives. In many ways prayer can be treated as a heavy machine operator treats his job. A heavy machine operator doesn’t show up to work in a suit and tie, but he does vigilantly watch and care for what he is doing. When we pray we need to remember to care for what we say and vigilantly watch what we say. Hallowing God’s name also speaks to the fact that we are to pray to one God. As a Christian we are not polytheists, rather we are monotheists. Our God is made of three parts, but He is still wholly One God. I believe another part of hollowing God’s name is to intentionally set aside time to pray. Can we rightly set apart God’s name in prayer if we are inconsistent in our prayer life? There are two sides to setting aside time to pray. The first is the issue of consistency. Our prayer life should be consistent, there should never be a day that passes where we do not take time to speak with God. If we are truly striving to know Him more, we must talk to Him more. We must be consistently before the throne of God to pour out our petitions, problems, and praises. The other side of setting aside time for prayer is finding a place to not be distracted. Even if we are consistently praying, it doesn’t truly ensure that we are setting aside time. Perhaps we are praying while the TV is blaring in the other room or where dozens of people are making conversation around us (like a lunch room), these are both fine times to pray (as any time is a good time to pray), but it is not truly setting aside time to pray. Another great distraction that can come into our prayer life is a prayer list. A prayer list can be a great tool to remember certain requests that you should be praying for, it can also be a fatal distraction though. Many people will grab a prayer list and become a robot that is mindlessly checking off requests from their list, this is not how God intended prayer to be. Jesus teaches us to Hallow God’s name and this requires setting aside time to eliminate distractions from our life.
In the simple phrase, “Hallowed be Your name” Jesus is teaching us an invaluable lesson on prayer. Prayer is to be worshiping God. When we talk to God through prayer we are to be multitasking by worshiping God at the same time. Worship in its most simple form is a humble action. We are to humble ourselves by recognizing who God is and how far above us He truly is, then we are to perform an act out of gratitude for Him. To make prayer an act of worship we must humble ourselves before God and realize that prayer is a position of dependence and not a position of entitlement. We come to God seeking our need for Him and do not come with demands upon Him.