Lord's Prayer: Hallowed Be Your Name

Preached: June 22, 2008

Dear Father, Help Us Glorify Your Name
John 17:1-6

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to Jesus is John 17

Jesus spoke these things, and lifting up his eyes, he said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son may glorify you -- just as you gave him authority over all flesh, so that all which you have given him, to them he may give eternal life. This is eternal life: That they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I glorify you on the earth completing the work you have given me to do. Now also glorify me, Father, with your own glory, which I had with you before the world was. I have revealed your name to them whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours. You gave them to me. They have kept your word.

This is the word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

Kevin Garnett. That name brings basketball to the minds of many. Tiger Woods -- think golf. Obama and McCain -- politics. Names can also bring negative pictures. Call someone a Judas, a Benedict Arnold, or a Jezebel and it's no compliment. Maybe the IRS considers your name just a label that better match with your Social Security number, but for us names can mean so much, much more.

All the more so, when it comes to the name of the true God. He, the Savior-God, the LORD, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- his name conveys all that he has made known to us, all that his Word has revealed to us, all that he wants you to know for your salvation. What a precious name! No wonder Jesus teaches us to pray that we keep that name holy and precious among us, that we glorify God's name. Hallowed be your name.

That brings us to the theme today as we consider the 1st Petition of the Lord's Prayer: Hallowed be your name. For with these words we pray our theme: Dear Father, help us glorify your name.

A. God's name reveals eternal life

But what's so vital about God's name? God's name is eternal life. That makes it the most precious treasure of all. Mankind has sought eternal life, ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin and were banished from the Tree of Life kept from it by the cherubim and flaming sword.

Ancient China and India sought the quintessence of life, an elixir of life. The Americas had their tales of the Fountain of Youth, sought in Florida supposedly by Ponce de Leon and in the movies by Jack Sparrow. In fact, much of modern medicine and science seems aimed at finding perpetual youth. How much money is spent every day to help people regain their youth? Pills, diets, surgeries, exercises, cosmetics, hair-dyes, clothing, and so much more.

Yet for all the time, effort, and money spent on the pursuit of eternal youth, the statistics stay the same: one death per person. For only God's name brings eternal life. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17: 3 NIV). To know God is to know him by name, to recognize who he is truly is, not what people imagine him to be, to know him in faith that calls on him as your Father, who sacrificed his Son for you. To know Jesus Christ is not simply to have his name on your lips now and again. To know Jesus Christ is to know what that name means for you, to know him as your divine Savior. He is the one sent by the Father on the mission only God could accomplish, the mission to save sinners. In him alone is forgiveness and eternal life. What a treasure!

But all this is a secret, hidden better than any pirate's treasure or fabled fountain. Yes, God's name is a secret, a mystery. No one can uncover it. But what good news that God in his love has chosen to make his name known to us! Jesus prayed, “I have revealed your name to them whom you gave me out of the world . . . They have kept your word” (John 17:6). Through God's Word, the Bible alone, Jesus reveals God's name. The word of God is like a lamp that lights up the darkness of our inborn ignorance to see God's name. His name and his word are inseparably joined together.

So Jesus came to make God's saving name known, to bring glory to God so that we praise God alone as our Savior. Jesus prayed to the Father: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV). Jesus accomplished his divine mission. He completed that work of saving sinners. His blood paid the full price for all sins, no exceptions. His resurrection from the dead is proof of payment in full. His ascension shows his work on earth completed. And because of what Jesus has done, we glorify the Father who sent him on that saving mission.

Imagine a POW camp in Germany toward the end of World War II. What hope and anticipation filled those prisoners of war when they heard the name Eisenhower. “General Eisenhower is coming. The Allies will set us free.” Even though he was not coming personally, but just sending the troops, his name brought hope.

So much more so God's name. For God himself has come in the person of Christ Jesus. He has set you free from the power of the forces of darkness: sin, Satan, and death. What a treasure his name is! It reveals eternal life. Pray: “Dear Father, help us glorify your name.”

B. We affect how others view his name

Now no matter what we do, God's name is holy and glorious all by itself. We cannot add to his glory or take away from it. For he is the great and glorious One. Most holy is his name. But what we teach and what we do does affect how others view his name.

Notice what Jesus says to the Father about his disciples. “I have revealed your name to them whom you gave me out of the world. . . They have kept your word” (John 17:6). Now remember that we said earlier that God's name and his word are inseparably joined together: Only God's word reveals his name, and we hallow, honor, glorify his name by keeping his word, just as the disciples did.

But that brings the question: How do we keep his word and so hallow, honor, and glorify his name? First of all, we keep his word by guarding it in a heart of faith. For isn't unbelief the greatest dishonor we can show to God, calling him a liar by not believing his word? Faith hallows God's name and glorifies him by believing his promises, trusting in his Son, Jesus Christ, as our God and only Savior from sin and death.

But faith in the heart cannot stay locked up in the heart. It bursts out into what we teach and into what we do. So we glorify God's name and keep it holy by teaching God's Word correctly, in its truth and purity. Do you like it when people tell lies about you? If we change what God's Word says, even if we imagine we're improving it, we are lying about God. That dishonors and shames his name.

For when you pray, “Hallowed be your name,” you are asking God to help you teach his Word correctly so that his name is glorified. That's why what congregation you belong to and what church body it's in is so important. Do you want your membership or offerings supporting false teachings that dishonor God's name? That's also why it's hypocritical to pray these words together with others who knowingly support false teaching. It may sound like you're saying the same thing, but you are praying against what they are supporting.

The teachings you support affect how others view God's name. So pray: “Dear Father, help my support only the true, pure teaching of your word so that your name is glorified and kept holy.”

But faith bursts out not only in what we teach but also in how we live. In Baptism God placed his family name on you. Your actions reflect on your heavenly Father. Just as sometimes our earthly families have a black sheep that we don't want to talk about, we do not want to become the black sheep who shames our heavenly Father by the way we live.

This leads us back to the Ten Commandments, doesn't it? “Heavenly Father, help me glorify your name by obeying your commandments.” That's how we keep God's name holy among us, by living godly lives. When God's name slips from our lips in expressions of anger or frustration, what does that say to others? What would it say to your spouse if you took your wedding ring and threw it into the pig sty? That's not how we treat something precious to us. But God's name is more precious than anything else.

On the other hand when we call on his name as our only sure hope and security in times of trouble, when we praise his name by proclaiming his goodness and mercy, when we give him thanks in all circumstances, how does that reflect on him? Doesn't that show others how holy and precious his name is to us?

How you live affect how others view God's name. Pray: “Dear Father, help my live according to your holy commandments so that your name is glorified and kept holy.”

And finally run to his name as your hope and salvation. For no matter how fervently we pray, we still fall short and fail to keep his name holy among us. Yes, we, who call ourselves God's children, have also brought shame on our heavenly Father. But in his holy name, you find the blood of his Son that washes you clean. In the blood of Jesus, you are holy in his sight. What a precious treasure! All glory to his holy name!

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313