“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name’” (Matthew 6:9)
If one of the first steps of prayer that we must work out is to whom we are praying, then one of the next steps is to understand who we are in prayer. When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He begins with attention on the Father, and then, within the first request of the prayer, asks that God’s name be hallowed in our midst.
We do not have many “hallowed” things in our world today, but there are a few still left, such as the hallowed halls of learning or hallowed places where we remember lost lives. We view such places or things as set apart from the ordinary.
This is how the Jewish people viewed God’s name. When reading the Hebrew Bible, the personal name of God, YHWH, could not be pronounced aloud, instead replaced by the Hebrew Adonai, which means ‘Lord.’ In His teaching about God’s name being hallowed, Jesus is telling His hearers about the holy uniqueness of the name of God. If the name represents the character of one’s being, then we discover that God’s character is set apart from the ordinary. God’s name is hallowed: unique, different, holy, or consecrated.
In light of this reality, Jesus’ teaching on prayer is a crash course in humility. The first request of the Lord’s Prayer takes us beyond sentimentalism or flippant spirituality and into the depths of God’s holiness and “other”-ness. We quickly realize that we are not hallowed and neither have we dealt with God as a hallowed Being with a hallowed Name. We are confronted with the great distance between us and God at the very beginning of this prayer. As Helmut Thielicke writes:
Nobody can say ‘Father’ who does not at the same time say, ‘I come to thee from a far country and I am not worthy to be called thy son. Father, I have not hallowed thy name; I have betrayed it a hundred times.’
If God is holy and powerful, yet still our Father, we approach prayer with the bended knee of humility, simultaneously reaching out for the grace found in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can traverse the impassable chasm between us and the transcendent God of the hallowed Name. Only Jesus can lead us from overpowering consciousness of our limitations into the brightness of God’s marvelous light. So we begin our prayer with the powerful request that God’s name be set aside as hallowed in us and in the world.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your Name.
O Almighty God, I cry to You
in full awareness of my need before You.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
hide me in Your gracious sacrifice.
Even as forgiveness covers me,
lead me by Your grace
to worship You in spirit and truth –
in the splendor of Your holiness –
that Your Name might be hallowed
in me and through me today.
 Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father: Sermon’s on the Lord’s Prayer (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 44.