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As this series explores the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase, we consider what each petition means and how to apply it to our own lives. A powerful tool for shaping how we think about God, ourselves, and the world, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray and leads us into a deeply meaningful way of talking to and hearing from the Lord.  

Read the “How to Pray Like Jesus” series introduction.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”

The opening of the Lord’s Prayer begins by telling us about God, the one we are praying to. It addresses God with praise and adoration. Starting with praise and proclaiming the truth of who God is before anything else highlights the importance of who God is. Biblically, it is often true that what comes first matters the most. Before we talk about ourselves and our needs, we praise God—and do so with reverence. The way that we name and honor God in the Lord’s Prayer tells us four important things about God. 

Our

The first word of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that we are not individuals praying alone, as if claiming that God is unique to us. We are part of a greater community, the body of Christ, reaching out to the God who first reached out to us, the God who made us a people (1 Peter 2:10).

Father

We name God as Father because we also know Jesus Christ as the Son. By naming God as his father, Jesus reveals the familial relationship and intimacy that is part of God’s own life (Father, Son, Spirit), which is Trinitarian and relational. To address God as Father is not to say that God is inherently or exclusively male. Christians have always believed that God is greater than any human conception of gender. God the Father is God the Creator, who spoke the world into existence. God the Father is God the Creator, who knows the number of hairs on your head. God is not only expansive beyond understanding, but also personal and in close relationship to each of us. God the Father knows us intimately; in fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves.

In heaven

Where is God? The Lord’s Prayer locates God in heaven, a realm that is beyond the earth and its boundaries, beyond our countries and our sanctuaries. We properly name that God is not of this earth, because the world cannot contain God. God cannot be made small, domesticated, or tamed. We also acknowledge that while God is the Creator, God is not creation itself. God is above and beyond the created world and cannot be contained by it. 

Hallowed be your name

Hallowed isn’t a word that we throw around very often. It means holy, honored, greatly revered. So if you want to say, “Holy is your name,” that would also be acceptable. God is holy and above all other names or beings. Naming God as holy sets God apart from us and humbles us. It is also part of an Old Testament tradition of naming God based on God’s character (Genesis 16:13, Genesis 21:33, Jeremiah 23:6). 

As you take time to pray and meditate on this phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, praise God by continuing to name God’s character. What other words describe God? How do you know God is holy? Consider how you can actively show your reverence for God today. 

Stephanie Soderstrom

Stephanie Soderstrom is coordinator for Short-term Mission for the Reformed Church in America.

Terry DeYoung
Terry DeYoung

Terry DeYoung serves the Reformed Church in America as coordinator for Disability Concerns. The AIM of Disability Concerns is to create accessible, inclusive, and missional churches where everybody belongs and everybody serves. If you’d like to support this kingdom-focused work, contact him at tdeyoung@rca.org.