Our Father in heaven.
What does this mean? With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.
Hallowed be Thy Name.
What does this mean?
God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.
How is God’s name kept holy?
God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We are given the gift of The Lord’s Prayer from Jesus Himself. Unlike the vain babbling of the hypocrites, Jesus tells us, who think they will be heard by their many words, rather this prayer Jesus gives us asks our heavenly Father to provide for all we need, even though He already knows what we need even before we ask. This Prayer is given to us so that we may be confident that what we pray is exactly what God Himself would have us to pray, and as Luther tells us in the Large Catechism, “there is no nobler prayer to be found on earth, for it has the powerful testimony and assurance that God loves to hear it.”
God who is OUR Father, invites us to this prayer, as His blessed children, who are adopted into His family through the work of His Son, our Lord Jesus who has given Himself for our sins and has become our brother through His coming into the flesh and dying as our substitute. So in Heb. 2:17 we are told:
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Not only do we pray to God as our father, as His beloved children, but Jesus, who has become our brother and our high priest prays and intercedes with us and for us always. We pray then, with assurance and confidence, in faith, believing that our Lord will hear us and answer us when we call upon Him.
We are given in this first petition to ask that God’s name be kept holy in us and among us. God Himself alone is holy, and we aren’t asking Him to be what He already is, this petition is for us, our families, the church, the government and all the earth. It is for us to extoll the Name given to us in holy baptism. It is to acknowledge that in our sinful flesh we don’t keep his name holy, but rather we misuse and even profane the name of the Lord, but in asking “hallowed be thy Name” we plead for God to help us to honor His name by honoring His Word both with what we say or teach, and in how we live. It is the fulfillment of the Second Commandment to not misuse the Name of the Lord, but instead that “We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”
We pray to speak His Gospel in all its purity to one another. That we would speak His Word of all sins forgiven on account of Jesus, and words of reconciliation to our families and neighbors, as well as for the church to teach His Word rightly and in all its purity. In this, we also ask for God to repent us and any false teachers who speak false doctrines and teach false liturgies, but that they would speak our Lord’s doctrine in all their teaching and living.
In all of this we ask that it would begin with us, when we make this petition.
This petition is also our confession that we so often believe falsely, and as we know, so many both preach and believe falsely and so they attack, persecute and suppress His Gospel and pure doctrine through which He gives His gifts.
As Luther reminds us:
“Likewise, this petition is for ourselves who have the word of God but are ungrateful for it and fail to live according to it as we ought. If you ask for such things from your heart, you can be sure God is pleased. For there is nothing he would rather hear than to have his glory and praise exalted above everything else and his word taught in its purity, cherished and treasured.”
So in this petition we also proclaim with the Psalmist as we sang earlier:
“O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:1
And we ask this of a loving heavenly father who gives His promise to hear us and answer our prayer:
“Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:5)
And “Ask and it will be given to you….for everyone who asks, receives.”
So we pray certainly with the very words He Himself gives to us knowing He WILL hear our cry for help and answer us.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.