And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done…
I. THE TERMS OF THE PRAYER. To implore that God's name may be hallowed, is to ask that it may be treated with due reverence, as befits the holy. In heaven it is so treated (Isaiah 6:3). But what is God's "name"? It stands for His character, and includes all those signs and deeds by which God makes known to us His moral essence; — all the manifestations which He has given of His nature and purposes; — as well as in the narrower sense of the titles and appellations which He has chosen to proclaim as His own. As His Scripture, or His Word, is a fuller and clearer manifestation of His character than is contained in this material structure — the handiwork of God, the visible Creation; so, consequently, this volume of Divine Scripture and the revelation there made are an important part of His name. As the Son, in His incarnation, yet more clearly" and yet more nearly manifested God, He, the embodying Messiah, is called the Word of God. For as the word or speech is the embodiment of human thought, so His humanity was the embodiment of the Divine thought, or rather, of the Divine Spirit. Moses had, when sheltered in the cleft of the rock, heard the name proclaimed. Elijah caught its "still, small voice." But Christ was the distinct, full, and loud utterance of the name — articulate, legible, and tangible — complete and enduring. And all the institutions which Christ Himself established, or which His apostles after Him ordained by His authority, since those institutions bear His name, or illustrate His character, are to be regarded as coming within the scope of the text.
II. THE SINS CONDEMNED BY THIS PETITION.
1. The profanity which trifles with God's name and titles is evidently most irreligious; and it is, though so rife a sin, most unnatural, however easily and however often it be committed. Other sins may plead the gratification of some strong inclination — the promise of enjoyment or of profit, which they bring with them, and the storm of emotion sweeping the tempted into them. But what of gain or of pleasure may be hoped from the thoughtless and irreverent — the trivial or the defiant use of that dread name, which angels utter with adoring awe? That the sin is so unprovoked adds to its enormity. That it is so common, fearfully illustrates the wide removal which sin has made of man's sympathies from the God to whom he owes all good; — rendering him forgetful alike of his obligations for past kindnesses, and of his exposure to the coming judgment. How murderously do men guard the honour of their own paltry names, and how keenly would they resent, on the part of a fellow-sinner, though their equal, the heartlessness that should continually, in his narratives, and jests, and falsehoods, call into use the honour of a buried father, and the purity of a revered and departed mother, and employ them as the expletive or emphatic portions of his speech — the tacks to bestud and emboss his frivolous talk. And is the memory of an earthly, and inferior, and erring parent deserving of more regard than that of the Father in heaven, the All-holy, and the Almighty, and the All-gracious? And if profanity be evil, what is perjury, but a daring endeavour to make the God of truth and justice an accomplice in deception and robbery? The vain repetitions of superstitious and formal prayer; the acted devotions of the theatre, when the dramatist sets up worship on the stage as a portion of the entertainment; and the profane intermixture in some Christian poets of the gods of heathenism with the true Maker and Ruler of Heaven, re-installing, as poets both Protestant and Catholic have done, the Joves and Apollos, the Minervas and Venuses of a guilty mythology, in the existence and honour, of which Christianity had stript them — will not be passed over, as venial lapses, in the day when the Majesty of heaven shall make inquisition of guilt and requisition for vengeance. And so, as to those institutions upon which Jehovah has put His name, just as an earthly monarch sets his seal and broad arrow on edict and property, the putting to profane and common uses what God has claimed for sacred purposes, betrays an evident failure to hallow His name.
2. But from the sins in act, which this prayer denounces, let us pass to the sins more secret, but if possible yet more deadly, those of thought — the errors and idolatries of the heart. Jehovah's chosen and most august domain is that where human legislators cannot enter or even look — the hidden world of man's soul. And in the speculations, and in the mute and veiled affections of that inner sphere, how much may God be profaned and provoked.
III. Consider the DUTIES to which this prayer, for a hallowing of our Father's name, pledges us.
1. As, in order to hallow God's name, we must ourselves become holy, repentance and regeneration are evidently required to acceptable service before the Lord our God. Are Christians called vessels of the house of God? It is needful that they be purified "to become vessels meet for the Master's use."
2. And, as a consequence of this growing holiness, Christians must grow in lowliness and self-abasement.
3. Pledged thus to holiness, and to lowliness as a consequence of understanding the true nature and the wide compass of holiness, Christians are again, in crying to their Father for the sanctification of His name, pledged to solicitude for the conversion of the world.
(W. R. Williams, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.