2007-08-10 - The Prayers of Christ
#5 ~ The Lord's Prayer, cont'd
For whatever reason, many of our churches still use archaic language when we say "The Lord's Prayer" together as a congregation, including the word "hallowed." We pray, "Hallowed be Your name." A modern definition of "hallowed" would be holy or sacred.
The New Living Testament puts it this way:
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy (NLT)
What does this mean to us as Christians, that God's name is holy? I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and in an upcoming devotional, I will share them with your fellow readers. We can learn from each other.
My own denomination (PCUSA), in a theological document includes this in a training document used with new church members:
Question 99. What is meant by the first petition, "Hallowed be your name"? This petition is placed first, because it expresses the goal and purpose of the whole prayer. When we pray for God's name to be "hallowed," we ask that we will know and glorify God as God really is, and that all things will truly come to serve God.
The most obvious answer to the question of how we should honor God's name, would be that we not use it in a curse. While Jesus taught us against legalism, we I think that we do need to also be careful with even the phrases that we think of as harmless. For example, the word "bloody" when used as a "substitute" for a curse word actually refers to Christ's blood, and "Jeez" is an abbreviation for Jesus.
But I believe the concept of honoring God's name goes deeper. I believe it also speaks to how we reflect Christ's character in our lives. Some years ago, when I was training to become a counselor for a Billy Graham crusade, the trainer was distributing bumper stickers that advertised the crusade. But he told us that if we were going to drive rudely, i.e. cutting off people in traffic, that we should not place one of the stickers on our car! A few years ago, I was campaigning for a man of integrity in a local political race, and with his sign on my car, I was conscious that everything I did reflected not just on myself, but on him as well.
I believe that in a similar manner, we should consider how everything that we do and say reflects on God. The old cliche "your life may be the only Bible some people read" could actually be true, perhaps moreso in our own times than in many centuries. Regardless, if people know that we are Christians, our behavior in checkout lines, in dealing with difficult people, when our child asks us to do their homework, - in fact, all our behavior - reflects on our Lord.
Is it unfair that people blame Him for our behavior? Absolutely. And we often say "don't look at me (us); look at Christ." That's very true, that only Christ will be perfect, but we also shouldn't use that as a "cop-out" to evade our own responsibility to reflect God's character as our own.
Comments or Questions?