For Holiness

Hallowed be your name.

Matthew 6:9c

To be such a key biblical concept, holiness is sorely misunderstood and overlooked. Most of this, I fear, comes from an ignorance as to the meaning of being holy. If this is so, we must seek to readily correct it because holiness is of tremendous importance. For instance, ancient Hebrew had no italics, underlining, or bolding of a text; instead, when they desired to place greater emphasis, they would so through repetition. If something was stated again, they reasoned that they must pay higher attention; otherwise, why would it be repeated? Thus, when the angels in Isaiah 6 cry out, “holy, holy, holy”, they do so with triple-repetition because declaring God to be holy is supremely important.

Holiness is probably best described as the “otherness” or exclusivity of God. Often God is thought of as being the most superior being in all of creation, yet such thought is far from the Bible’s teaching. God is not merely sitting high atop the final rung of the ladder of creation. No, God created the ladder! In considering an amoeba and an archangel, we should note that the archangel is not closer to being like God than the amoeba; rather, both are more similar to one another than to God. All things are created by God, but God is eternally existent with no beginning or ending.  When we speak of the holiness of God, this then is what we must have in mind: the infinite and unfathomable grandeur and uniqueness of God.

Our prayers ought, therefore, to be a tightrope walk between the boldly approaching God as our Father and fearfully coming before Him as the Holy One. Yes, we are now free in Christ to have intimacy with God, but we must still maintain the awe and reverence of God’s holiness.

Allow me to bring up one final principle here. What does it mean to pray for God’s name to be holy? Obviously, we realize that God will be holy whether we pray for that or not; rather, I believe that God urges us to pray for His name’s hallowing for our benefit. In praying for God’s name to be holy, we ought to have certain areas in mind. For instance, we should long each day for God’s holiness to be displayed in our lives, and we do so by exalting the glory and supremacy of God’s name. Praying “hallowed be your name” is prayer for Him to increase while I decrease (John 3:30). It is a prayer for us to be self-crucifying and Christ-exalting throughout our lives. Daily prayer for the holiness of God’s name is meant to humble ourselves, while lifting high Jesus. In short, it is the act of setting our “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2).”

Meditate upon the holiness of God, thinking deeply about His glorious supremacy.

Pray for the God’s name to be holy in your life, that you would live for His name to be honored rather than your own.


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