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This third installment about the Lord’s Prayer deals with the phrase, “holy be Your name.” I’ll be transparent here. This is the part of this prayer that is the most difficult for me to understand, and it has to do with my lack of ability to wrap my brain around God’s holiness.

Back to that in a moment.

One of the other problems I have had with this portion has pretty much been resolved, I think. (Boy, that sounded squishy, didn’t it? Sorry.) I was unsure whether we were to ask the Father to glorify His name Himself, or whether we should be involved, as well. As it turns out, as I looked at available resources, both are true. Here is one biblical example:

“So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 38:23 ESV).

The Lord is saying the He will make His holiness known.

However, there is also this:

“For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel (Isaiah 29:23 ESV).

The “he” in this passage is referring to Jacob, which figuratively refers to the nation of Israel.

So—we are to pray that the Father will make His name holy and we are to pray that His name will be holy in our lives.

But what does that mean?

Well, concerning the fact that the Lord said that He Himself will make His holiness known, it looks like I am to agree with His purpose, which is what I do when I pray. “Lord, I pray that Your name (all of who You are; Your character and nature) will be made holy in the earth.” That is relatively easy. He is going to do that. He knows how to do that. All I have to do is agree with His purpose.

However, I need to pray in knowledge. The word “holy” has the roots the roots of its meaning in being “set apart.” So, I’m to agree with the fact that the Lord’s “set-apartness” will be known in the earth. But what does it mean that He is “set apart”?

This is where I begin to have problems wrapping my brain around this. God is so set apart that He is quite a bit different from you and me. “Quite a bit different” means that we do share His characteristics, even in a fallen state, since Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. For believers, who are now His children and share His spiritual DNA, we actually have Him living in us, by His Spirit.

Nevertheless, He is still, well, “wholly other,” I guess theologians (whose company, as is apparent, I do not share) say. As I think this through, I come to the uncomfortable understanding that, being holy, He is so set apart and different from us that I can’t really comprehend how set apart and different He is. He is good, all the way through—no evil at all. He cannot lie. It’s not just that He doesn’t lie—He can’t. His knows everything perfectly. There is nothing He doesn’t know. He is love, all the way through: patient, kind, merciful, full of grace. He is just—no corruption. He doesn’t show favoritism. He is peaceful. Joyful. He is life, in its total fullness, in its eternal nature, whatever may mean. On and on we could go, until we say, “There is none like You in heaven or on earth. There are no gods before You.”

Now, how am I, in my daily life, to make His holiness, His “set-apartness” known? That is, to say the least, a challenge. It means more than just clean living. It means being a man who acts and talks like His heavenly Father is so different, so set apart from us that I am, apparently, to be in awe of Him all day long. To talk about Him with great reverence. (That is why, in the last few years, people mindlessly saying, “Oh my God” doesn’t make me angry—it grieves me.) And, yes, it includes clean living, because I wouldn’t be living as a man who believes the Father is totally set apart in amazing, almost un-understandable ways, if I make choices that sink me down into the, um, outhouse, where things aren’t amazing or un-understandable. Things aren’t “set apart” down there at all. They are, in fact, death.

As I am sitting here wrapping this up, I feel like I have done no good at all in helping in the understanding of what “holy be Your name” means. It seems as if I’ve rambled and made this thought as clear as mud. So, if you have a better understanding of what “holy be Your name” means please—I mean this—please, help me out. This is one of the most mind-boggling concepts that is currently swirling around in this brain of mine.

May the Lord bless you as you follow Him.

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