I'm no rocket scientist, and I don't know a whole lot about launching rockets into space, but I do know that the further the distance that an object has to travel, the more precise the coordinates have to be. Elon Musk and the fine folks at SpaceX spend massive amounts of time, energy and money to make sure their rockets are properly established, aimed and aligned. Immense precision efforts are taken long before the launch sequence is ever initiated. When you intend to fly a rocket through the atmosphere into space, you'd better be sure it's assembled and aimed in the right direction, or you are likely to end up somewhere you didn't intend to. And, depending on the power and the payload of the vessel, a mistake in aim can be disastrous.
I use this little analogy because it can help us understand what Jesus is doing with the prayer directives He gave His disciples the day they'd asked Him to teach them to pray.
He said, when you pray, pray like this;
"Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name." Matthew 6:9
This one sentence of prayer, when truly engaged, has the power to accurately and precisely frame not only the rest of the flow of the Lord's Prayer, but the entire trajectory of our lives.
In the opening sentence of the prayer, Jesus builds us a theological framework. He causes us to, when we pray, first think of God's goodness (Father), His nearness (In Heaven, that present reality of His presence and power), and now he points us toward His holiness.
"Hallowed be your name."
Why does Jesus call us to pray toward the "hallowing," the reverence, holiness, of His Name (who He is)?
First, when we say "hallowed be your Name," it speaks to foundations. This prayer serves us as a foundational reminder that our God is holy.
Hallowed "be," as in, it is holy. He is holy.
When you pray, don't make the all too easy, all too human mistake of interpreting His love, goodness and nearness as something common. According to Jesus, there is nothing normal, average, or common about this God to whom we pray.
He is holy. Other. Set apart. In a category alone.
Holy is the word we use when there are no words to describe who He is.
Holy speaks of awe-inspiring grandeur.
Holy speaks of a mind-blowing intelligence, heart-melting goodness, hell shaking righteousness, evil destroying justice, darkness-destroying light.
He is holy.
When we call to mind God's holiness, it grounds us in the fact that our God is greater, bigger, better, smarter, richer, more capable, and more loving than you can imagine. Stretch your imagination to its limits, the truth of who God is, stretches infinitely farther than the reach of your wildest dreams. He. Is. Holy.
Ground yourself in God's holiness, and you will not be overcome.
Second, When we say hallowed be your Name, it speaks to intentions. If God's holiness is the starting point, it is also the finish line. This prayer serves to remind us that not only is God holy, but He deserves to be hallowed now and forevermore. Jesus is calling us to live a life toward the worship of God and the forever increase of His praise. This is at the heart of the term "hallowed be."
This prayer is a specific coordinate for your life that aims us unto the eternal hallowing of His great Name.
God is holy all by Himself. He doesn't need us to make His Name any holier by our hallowing. Jesus doesn't point us toward a life of worship to do God any favours; it's for us! This prayer is about establishing our lives in the right, eternal, forever trajectory, one that brings God glory, and subsequently brings us full and eternal life.
The Westminster catechism states that "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." In other words, life, fulfilment, and forever enjoyment comes through the forever pursuit of the glory of God.
Not only does Jesus invite us to ground ourselves in God's holiness, but also aim ourselves at it. God Himself, His holiness, His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence are the starting point and the finish line for our lives. If we get the starting point and the finish line right, no matter what comes in between, we will end up in the right place.
Hebrews 12:1-3 speaks to the same idea, that we are to both begin and end with Jesus in mind. Grounded in His goodness and greatness, and aimed at His glory.
"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter (beginner and finisher) of our faith…"
When you pray, pray from a realization of His goodness and glory.
And, when you pray, pray toward (and ultimately live toward) His goodness and glory. If you can start from His holiness and strive for His hallowing, no matter what comes between the beginning and the end, you cannot miss.
Pray and live this day grounded in His greatness and goodness, and aimed toward His glory. You will find a holy, near, good God who is with you on the ground, and will be with you and go before you every step you take, all the way out of this world.
"This, then, is how you should pray:
"'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13