What does it mean for God to grant us something? It means that He gives us something as a gift or He answers a request we have of Him. Think about visiting the White House. If you want to visit, I suggest you don’t just jump the fence and run to the door. That will end badly for you. If you want access to the White House, access must be granted to you. You can tour the White House by submitting a request to your Representative or Senator. When access is granted, you can take a tour, which I’m sure would be quite interesting. Apart from the West and East Wings, the White House is approximately 55,000 square feet, so I’m sure exploring would be fun.
Consider the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “Hallowed be Thy Name.” I’ve always struggled to understand the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer because the wording throws me off a bit. For me, the petitions sound more like statements in English, affirmations of what is, but when you consider the Greek, it becomes clear that they are indeed petitions. We’re asking God for things. “Hallowed be Thy Name” is asking God to hallow or make His great name holy. But by making the request “Hallowed by Thy Name,” what are we really asking?
Heidelberg 122 explains what we’re asking when we pray “Hallowed be Thy Name.” It explains:
That is: Grant us, first of all, that we may rightly know You and sanctify, glorify, and praise You in all Your works in which shine forth Your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth. Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life—our thoughts, words, and actions—that Your name is not blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.
Now, that explanation says a lot, but notice that “grant us” is used twice. To use the phrase “grant us” alludes to two things. First, we have a need that only God can meet. When we ask God to grant us gifts, it assumes that we need those gifts and do not, apart from Him, have those gifts. Second, by asking God to grant is assumes that God is sovereign and good and able to grant what we ask. Otherwise, why on earth would we ask Him anything. If God is not sovereign, if God is not able to act according to His decrees and desires, there is no use asking Him for anything. Agreed?
So in the Lord’s Prayer, we are coming to Almighty God who is our heavenly Father, and we are asking Him to give us what we need. The first thing we need is for God to hallow His name in our lives. We need God to grant us grace so that we esteem, revere, and honor His great name. We do not naturally do that. God must sovereignly work in our lives to do that, and Jesus knew this, so he taught us to ask for this.
By requesting of God that He hallow His great name, we are asking Him to help us “rightly know [Him] and sanctify, glorify, and praise [Him] in all [His] works.” We do not naturally do this. We need the Holy Spirit to compel us to know and worship God, to admire His mighty works, and to worship God accordingly. As the Heidelberg rightly concludes, the works of God “shine forth [His] almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth.” Since the works of God shine forth God’s inestimable glory, we are asking God to help us see His glory in His works. It dishonors God if we believe wrong things about Him. It dishonors him if we assume we know Him when we actually conceive of Him according to our own imagination and not according to His own self-revelation. It dishonors God if we are underwhelmed by the magnificence of His works. We need to ask God to grant us true knowledge of Him and true admiration and praise of His glorious achievements.
We are also asking God to grant us grace by directing our lives to holiness. We are naturally prone to pursue the lusts of the flesh. Since we have a great need, we are asking God to redirect our whole life from the lusts of the flesh to the glory of His great name. Our thoughts need to be redirected to God. Our words need to be redirected to God. Our actions need to be redirected to God. We’re asking God to grant us the grace to be redirected to Him.
Why are we asking this? Why is our redirection important? Because God’s name is so great that we ought not to do anything to blaspheme His name, belittle His name, or bring reproach to His name. The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer relates closely to the first four commandments, especially the third. As children of our heavenly Father, we want to always honor our Father. We want His name to be esteemed, honored, revered, praised, and worshiped. So we are asking God in the first petition to grant us the grace that our lives may never dishonor Him but only ever honor Him.
Please think carefully about what you’re praying in the Lord’s Prayer. You are admitting your inability and weakness. You are conceding that you desperately need the sovereign grace of God to change you. For you to rightly know God, esteem Him for His mighty works, to live for the glory and honor of His name, you need Him to grant you grace. You need God to gift you with grace. You are unable, inept, incapable, and disinterested apart from God’s sovereign grace. Therefore, we ask, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” And when we ask, we must ask in faith believing that our faithful heavenly Father will grant us what we ask (James 1:6).
Brothers and sisters, we shouldn’t simply rattle off the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer as a mindless mantra. That’s easy to do. We should consider the first petition and what we’re asking God to do for us. We should request His help because we recognize how much we need it. We should also believe that our loving heavenly Father will help us
One of the brothers from Jerusalem Church recently brought up Matthew 7:11 in relation to sanctification, and I think he makes a good point. Our Father wants to give us good things. Think about it. Good earthly fathers want to give good things to their children. I’m a father of four, and I want to give my kids good gifts. Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Well said, Jesus. You are always right.
Dear ones, your heavenly Father is ready and willing to give you good things. Ask Him to hallow His great name in you. Ask Him for sovereign grace. Ask Him to help you rightly know Him, to esteem and appreciate His power in His works, and to live in a way that extols His marvelous name. Oh, Father, grant us.
Quotes from the Heidelberg Catechism are taken from Zacharias Ursinus & Jonathan Shirk, The Heidelberg Catechism (Manheim: Small Town Theologian, 2021), 64-65.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.