Welcome to worship today at Christ Lutheran ----- and welcome if you’re listening on the radio!
From Pastor Ralph---The flu has knocked Stephanie and I out this week, but we are grateful to the many people who have helped prepare our worship time for today. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks to Kari for sharing Christ’s Good News with you today.
What you’re going to hear is part from Pastor Ralph, part from Pastor John on the topic in the past---and all of it that is true and helpful comes from the Holy Spirit.
This sermon series is on the answer to a request. Jesus’ disciples said to him, Lord teach us to pray. We all need to learn and relearn how to pray. Too often we drift into treating prayer as that heavenly ATM that was mentioned last week.
There was a mother who heard her son saying his prayers and he said, “Dear God let it be Tokyo.” When he finished she asked him, “What do you mean, Tokyo?” “Well”, the boy said, “we had our geography quiz today and I was praying that God would make Tokyo the capital of France!”
We often think of prayer as a way for God to make up for our mistakes. And he can and does do that many times, but that is not the prime purpose of prayer. The prime purpose of prayer is to change our alignment, to realign our hearts, minds and souls with God’s factory specs for how human life works best.
And after Jesus taught---“Our Father who art in heaven”, the next phrase reads “Hallowed be thy name.”
In the Small Catechism, Luther writes---
“Hallowed be thy name.” What does this mean? Answer: To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us.
“How is this done? Answer: When the Word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as children of God, lead holy lives in accordance with it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!...
“….But whoever teaches and lives otherwise than as the Word of God teaches, profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, heavenly Father!”
“Hallowed be Thy Name.” These are radical words. They confront our self-centered sinful nature. They draw a battle line between the worship of God and the worship of self and the things God has made.
When we pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name” we are praying that God and his name will be worshipped above all else. We are praying that the world will set it apart as holy and respect and revere it. That we will trust and obey God because God is worthy of all our obedience, adoration, honor, fear, and love.
Everybody worships something! The question is “Are the things we worship worthy of worship?” Whose name are we “hallowing” by the way we live?
What a mess we make when we worship things that aren’t worthy of worship. Things like our own will, our own wants and desires. Having it our way! Believing that above all God wants us to have all our wants fulfilled. How immature and naïve!
Jesus places this phrase of the prayer right up front because it is so basic for us to learn---the truth of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
And as Luther wrote---“To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us.” God’s name is not merely a label. Jesus teaches us that God’s name is much more than a title. It sums up all that he is, his traits, his character, his will.
And the Bible has numerous examples of the power and holiness of the Lord and his name, which represents him.
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.”
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Psalm 99:2-3 “Great is the Lord in Zion, he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name, he is holy.”
And after Mary is told by the angel that she will give birth to the Son of God, she praises the Lord---
Luke 1:49 “For the mighty one has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
That’s a great way to put it!
When we pray, Hallowed be thy name, we are praying for the Lord’s holiness to fill the earth.
To get a better handle on this let’s look at Isaiah 6.
Isaiah 6:1-4 “In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings… and they were calling one another; “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth if full of his glory. At the sound of their voices the doorposts and the thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”
The prophet Isaiah finds himself in the very presence of God Almighty. The mightiest of angels are worshipping and singing the praises of God’s name. God’s name is being hallowed, declared as holy! Why? Because God is holy! He is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. God and his name can’t be separated! And Isaiah, the prophet of God, is terrified. We would be, too!!
Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried, “For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!”
Isaiah 6:6-7 “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.”
There was nothing Isaiah could do to atone for his sin. He stands before God without excuse. There in the perfect holiness of God, with the angels singing and praising, his wretchedness is clearly seen. His words and deeds have been all too much about hallowing his own name, not God’s. It is only by the mercy of God that he is not instantly vaporized by the holiness of God echoing and swirling surrounding him.
Then God acts. The angel takes a coal from the altar of sacrifice and touches Isaiah’s lips. He is cleansed, his sin is removed. God himself makes atonement for Isaiah’s sin. Isaiah becomes “holy”, set apart, redeemed, restored to the purpose for which God created him.
Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I send me.”
The call given to Isaiah, to Jesus and to you and me is to proclaim the holiness of God. How do we do that? Certainly in our worship! But worship must be more than just singing songs in church! It’s how we live our lives. It’s our willingness to live in such a way that we bring glory to God and his name. That we hallow his name.
When we pray---
“Hallowed be Thy name”,
---we are praying for God’s holiness to invade our lives. That we will be set apart by God to live lives that are so different from the world around us that our lives become a testimony to the holiness, sovereignty, grace and mercy for God.
Do you want that? Sometimes we want assurance of God’s forgiveness but we have no interest in leaving our sin behind and committing ourselves to living his way. That kind of hypocrisy defames the name of God rather than hallowing it.
Sometimes we want God as our daddy to comfort us and provide for us and help us get out of trouble, but we have no interest in living in obedience to his Word. We want his blessing, but we don’t want to answer his command to live holy lives. God did not save us to serve sin, he saved us for holiness. To live otherwise defames his name rather than hallowing it.
Why is it so important that God’s name be hallowed that Jesus put this petition first in the Lord’s Prayer? “If God’s name is not hallowed or holy; we are without hope.”
Our salvation depends on God maintaining his holiness. His holiness reveals the deep need within us. It also drives his mercy. When we pray “Hallowed, holy be your name.” we are praying that God’s holiness would cause him to be merciful and save us.
How do we keep his name holy? We need to know the truth about him from his Word. We can’t hallow a God whose character and will we do not know or care about.
We make his name holy when we are aware of his presence. In the midst of our often unnecessary busyness, we need to stop and focus on who God is, who we are and get reoriented as to what is important and what isn’t. We must try to be aware of God’s will in all that we do. He may be on our minds right now, but what about later today and throughout the week?
Our Father’s name is hallowed when we do his will. Disobedience to God is taking His name in vain. Following his will makes his name holy in us.
Jesus said, “When you pray say “Hallowed be thy name.” God’s name is holy because God is holy. And he created us to be holy. We were created to be sacred; set apart for the Lord. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”
God has set us apart to be holy. Jesus died on the cross to make you holy. All through the Scripture, the Lord reminds us. “You shall be holy because I the Lord, your God am holy.”
Are you living to hallow God’s name? The words you say, the decisions you make are cosmic. For better or worse, they will effect and ripple through the generations that follow you. Your life is not yours alone. It belongs to God, those around you, those who follow you.
Instead of asking God to help you hallow your own name and have it your own way, pray as Jesus prayed. Ask him to help you hallow his name with your whole life so that you live to worship him glorify him and not things that have no eternal value.
When our name is linked with God’s name, we become more like him.
Jesus said, “When you pray, say, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”