The Lord’s Prayer | Holy is Your Name 4

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In the prayer Jesus taught us, we begin by addressing God and praying for the honor and holiness of his name. Here, as in so many ways, focusing our attention on God yields fruitful learning about ourselves as well. 

If we are created in the image of God and bear the image of God, and God is holy, then it seems to follow that we are to be holy. Holiness, differentness. We are to be different from the world because God is different from the world, and we belong to God rather than the world. 

Perhaps God’s salvation rescues us from being too much like the world in order to claim us as fully God’s again. 

Here is how Leviticus puts it: 

“I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” (‭Leviticus‬ ‭11:45‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God says that his saving work on the Israelites’ behalf (“who brought you our of Egypt”) gives him claim to their lives (“to be your God, therefore be holy”). 

Clearly, the early Christians saw this as an important truth to keep. Peter writes about it this way: 

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”” (‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:15-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

For Peter, Christ’s saving work (“new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3) seems to lay claim to people’s lives in just the same way as the Israelites’ rescue from slavery in Egypt. And this means that we are to imitate Christ. Peter finds the words he is looking for all the way back in the book of Leviticus and God’s word to the wandering tribes of Israel in the wilderness. 

How does this connect to the prayer Jesus taught? 

When we pray that God’s name is “hallowed,” that is, regarded and honored as holy, we are already sowing seeds in prayer that our lives will be transformed and different because we pray to this holy God. After all, that is part of his aim for us–that just like him, we’ll be different too. 

Prayer: God, I am both frightened and bewildered by your instruction to be holy as you are holy. That sounds like something far away from me. Still, help me to pray. Help me to honor the holiness of your name. And help me trust your transforming work in my life. Amen. 

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