I was reading in Matthew 6 and came upon the familiar passage that includes the Lord’s Prayer. You know it and have prayed it. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” But this time I was reading the NLT, which I sometimes do precisely because of the changes in wording. It read:
“Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.”
Hallowed by thy name…may your name be kept holy. I have always been told that the word holy means “other than” or “above the normal standards.” While holy can also mean consecrated and pious, since we are talking about the name of God there is no action attached to the idea of holy in the passage. Well…not God’s action anyway.
In this passage, we hold the action. What we say and how we use the name of God plays into the concept of keeping God’s name holy. When I hear a “God damn it” or an “Oh my God” there is a cringe that happens in me. So, we always need to be careful to invoke the name of God cautiously in our language.
But I’m not convinced that is the whole lesson in keeping God’s name holy. I think it goes beyond what we say and also includes what we do and eventually settles into who we are. When Jesus prays this, we recognize his devotion to the Father, not only in his language, but in his actions and very being. We call Jesus the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. And Jesus teaches us to pray this prayer. Therefore, in this prayer we, as God’s people, reflect on our actions as work that keeps God’s name holy. We reflect on our character and reputation as a people who carry the name of God in us, and we strive to keep the name of God holy. Often we pray for many things; wants, desires, miracles, blessings—but Jesus teaches us to ask God’s help in keeping his name holy, and that is the first line of the prayer.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.