Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
As we saw a few days ago, we can and should approach God as our Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us. For the people of Jesus’ day, this was surprising, if not shocking, because they thought God could only be approached with fear and trembling.
Today, however, we are just as apt to fall prey to an equal but opposite error. Sometimes we approach God with a flippant familiarity, as if He were our cosmic buddy. Jesus addresses this inappropriate tendency in the second phrase of The Lord’s Prayer—“hallowed be your name.”
Although we rarely use the word hallowed today, it refers to honoring or respecting someone or something. The idea is that we are to give God the honor He is due as God, and not treat Him as if He were our boyfriend in the sky or some sort of heavenly vending machine that dispenses spiritual candy when we push the right prayer buttons. While we don’t need to approach God with fear and trembling, we do need to show Him respect.
Jesus brilliantly balances the two concepts of familiarity and reverence when He teaches us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” God certainly is our Father, but He is also our Heavenly Father, whose name we are to hallow or honor. We’re approaching the Creator of the universe, and we would be wise to remember that as we pray.
So, how can we show honor and respect to God when we pray? One way is by taking more than a trivial amount of time to pray. Drive-by prayers don’t show the kind of reverence for God that He deserves. We take time to talk with people who are important to us. The same should be true when we talk with God.
Another idea is to explicitly tell God why we appreciate Him. The Psalmists often do this. Perhaps focus on one aspect of His character, such as His power or His majesty or His grace or His forgiveness. Thank Him and praise Him for who He is and what He’s done for you.
Jesus taught us to balance our prayers with a combination of intimacy and awe. Make that balance a regular feature of your prayers.