Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 4. Respectful Praying
Mt 6:9b hallowed be your name,
And here we have the balance to the intimacy we have been considering in the relationship with the Lord. Hallowed means revered, respected and honored. I cringe every time I hear some one go, “Oh my God!” It is just using God as an expletive. I recently completed a series ‘Revisiting the Ten Commandments’ and identified 5 errors, five ways we wrongly use God’s name, five ways that we disrespect Him, failing to honour, respect and hallow Him.
But it is more than just the way we speak; it starts before that. It starts with our very attitude, the way we think of God. This is the Creator of all things we are talking about, the all-powerful holy God, the one who judges the world, the one before whom we will all have to stand at the Final Judgment. Yes, “the Judge is standing at the door,” (Jas 5:9) watching, overseeing, and intervening in His world as He sees fit.
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Heb 10:31) wrote the writer to the Hebrews as he spoke about how the Lord acts in the world and in the Church, declaring, “The Lord will judge his people.” (Heb 10:30). Whether Peter was making a general statement or one about a specific time then, he caught the same feeling when he wrote, “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.” (1 Pet 4:17) If it’s not judgment, it may be discipline: “endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (Heb 12:7) Bear in mind a father only disciplines a child who is off course, being disobedient, doing wrong. But this is the God with whom you and I deal with, a God not to be treated casually or disrespectfully.
This is a God who is so great and so powerful that it defies our imagination, this is a God who we see in both Old and New Testaments who steps into the affairs of His people to bring discipline, often when He takes His children home, it is more for the benefit of the watchers continuing on earth than them perhaps (see Acts 5:5,10, 1 Cor 11:27-32). These are not casual things, these are things that we should think about soberly (Rom 12:3, 1 Thess 5:6)
So much of this blueprint for prayer that Jesus is giving us is all about the relationship of a loving heavenly Father to His children but we should never forget who this heavenly Father is, the supreme authority who planned all this before the foundation of the world, who is working to a schedule that will end with the Final Judgment and a new heaven and a new earth, a new dwelling in eternity with Him. Such a God deserves our awe and respect. Failure reveals our ignorance and folly.