Questions 124 & 125

‘May we honor your name’ or ‘may your name be kept holy.’ * That is the first thing Jesus* tells his disciples* to pray. When we say that God is holy, we say that God is perfect and set apart from everyone else. But what does it mean to keep his name holy?

 

Our names are important to us. When someone remembers our name, we feel pleased. When they use our name to speak well of us, we feel honored. People also use names to describe us. They give us a name that tells who we are or what we do. So, people may call us a brother or sister, a teacher or student, or a writer or a singer. Each of those names speak of a role that we have. It is a way for people to say who we are and how they see us.

 

We do not like it when people use our name to speak bad things about us. And we do not like it when people call us bad names. Our names are important to us. The scriptures* tell us that God’s name is important to Him as well. When God gave Moses* laws* for the people of Israel*, he said, ‘You must not use the name of the Lord* your God in a bad or careless way.’ And He said, ‘Do not use my name as if it were not holy.’[1]

 

Our names say something about who we are and what we are like. So, the scriptures also use names for God to tell us who he is and what he is like. The Old Testament* writers call him, the Lord, Mighty and Strong; The God who made all things; the Lord, our peace;* and the Lord who provides. The Old Testament uses more than twenty names for the One, True God. When Jesus told his followers* to pray the words, ‘May your name be kept holy,’ He had the Old Testament scriptures in mind. He wanted them to begin their prayers with praise. We praise God for who he is and what he has done. We thank him and honor him for all that he has done for us. And we ask that other people would honor him too.

 

So, Jesus wants us to remember who God is when we pray. He is mighty. He is strong. He provides. And he will not allow himself to be put to shame. So, we must speak of him in ways that honor him. And we must never give the honor that is due to him to anyone or anything else.[2]

 

We honor God’s name when we speak of him with respect.* We believe that he is good, so we never speak of him as if he were not good.

 

We also bring honor to God’s name when we obey him. Children can sometimes do things that are wrong. Sometimes, a child can bring shame upon their parents by the way they act. We can do the same thing when we do bad things. Or when we do not do what God tells us to do. When Israel did not follow God’s laws, the nations near them thought less of Israel’s God.[3] They caused the nations to say evil* things about him. The way that Israel could best honor God’s name was to obey him.[4] So, it is important to ‘set ourselves apart to be holy’.[5] The way to keep God’s name holy is to be holy ourselves.

 

When we follow God’s commands, other people will notice. Jesus said that we are to do good so that people will see our good works and give honor to our Father in heaven*.[6] So, whether we eat or drink or do anything else, we are to do all that we do to give glory* to God.[7]

 

When we pray that God’s name will be honored, we are also asking God to do great works and put his power on display. When God does mighty acts, people can see that he is holy and will give him glory. When God brought Israel out of Egypt*, he did many wonders there. He did that so the people would see his mighty works, know his great power, and honor his name.[8]

 

The first request teaches us to pray that God’s people, wherever they are in the world, will act in a way that honors God. And we pray that we will be kept from doing things that would cause other men and women to think less of God and keep them from seeing who he is. We pray that all people would see the glory of God in us and in all of his people.

 

When we ask God to answer the first request, we can remind ourselves of God’s promise. The day is coming when the whole world will see God for who he is. And the whole earth will know the glory of God’s name.[9]


[1] Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 22:31-32
[2] Isaiah 48:9-11
[3] Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:20-22; Romans 2:24
[4] Leviticus 22:31-32; Ezekiel 39:7
[5] Leviticus 20:7
[6] Matthew 5:16
[7] 1 Corinthians 10:31
[8] Exodus 14:4; Exodus 14:17-18; Psalm 106:7-8
[9] Isaiah 40:5