Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
January 6, 2011
Chocolate pigs and the New Year
Unless you live in Austria, you probably didn’t celebrate the New Year with a pig-shaped lucky charm. Stalls across the country sell the little porkers in chocolate, glass, wood, rubber or soap. Pigs apparently represented food and sustenance for farmers in preindustrial times.
As we begin the new year, we’re learning to pray and live by Jesus’ will for us. As we have seen this week, he taught us to call God “our Father in heaven.” Now we come to the first petition we are to make to this God: “hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). What does this mean? How does praying these words align our lives with God’s will for us?
Jesus probably adapted this petition from an early form of what became a basic synagogue prayer, the Kaddish. New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias gives us its oldest form: “Exalted and hallowed be his great name in the world which he created according to his will. May he let his kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and soon. And to this, say: amen.”
The Jewish people knew their God to be “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). “Hallowed” means “to be made holy.” God’s “name” refers to his character and reputation. Our first request should be that God help us to glorify and honor him with all that we are about to pray and do today.
God will not share his glory. Whenever we seek to glorify him with our lives, we will have his power and guidance as we fulfill his will. There is room on the throne of your heart for only one person. Put him there every morning. Say with the Psalmist, “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (Psalm 93:1-2).
Say with Exodus 15:18: “The Lord will reign for ever and ever.” Say with Psalm 29:10: “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.” Say with 2 Kings 19:15: “O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” Say with Zechariah 14:9, “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”
In his catechism Martin Luther asks, “How is God’s name hallowed amongst us?” and his answer is, “When both our life and doctrine are truly Christian.” Presbyterian pastor and theologian James Montgomery Boice says, “If I were to rephrase this first part of the Lord’s Prayer, I believe I would say, ‘My Father in heaven, my first desire is that in everything you might have preeminence.'”
Charles Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers,” exhorted us: “May his name be treated reverently, and may all that is about him—his Word and his Gospel—be regarded with the deepest awe! It is for us so to walk before the Lord in all lowliness, that all shall see that we reverence the character of the thrice-holy One. Then we can truly pray, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ when we hallow it ourselves.”
Have you made him your King today? Do you typically begin your prayers and day by asking God to use your life for his glory? Will you?