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Holy be your Name

There was a young woman in the youth group in my previous parish whose response to almost everything was “O my God.” It was thrown in to her conversation almost as casually as the phrase “You know.” “O my God, it was the cutest skirt.” “O my God, the movie was so great.” It was so ubiquitous, the youth group started mimicking her by substituting her name: “O my Melanie!” to help her recognize and change her habit.

But the second petition isn’t asking God to protect us from all the Melanies out there who use the name of God as if it were a word without meaning, nor those who use it as a profanity. Such things do not honor God’s name, but they are nothing compared to the way God is maligned by so many other actions and deceits that are wrapped in God’s name. When God is invoked in the cause of division. When God is said to hate. When God is portrayed as a path to wealth and success. When the name of God is a marketing tool for anything from a broadcasting station to a plumber’s shop. When those who bear God’s name act in ways that betray that name. This is the concern of the prayer Jesus taught us.

With this petition we are not asking God to silence sinners. We are asking God to work in us that our lives might reflect the true heart of God.

The Prayer for Week 2: “Holy be your Name”

To you, O God, all voices rise,
and you hear the cries of the whole human community.
Send forth your Spirit into every heart
that we may honor you with every word and deed. Amen

The First Petition: “Hallowed be thy name.”

What does this mean?

God’s name certainly is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that we may keep it holy.

When does this happen?

God’s name is hallowed whenever his Word is taught in its truth and purity and we as children of God live in harmony with it. Help us to do this, heavenly Father! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to the Word of God dishonors God’s name among us. Keep us from doing this, heavenly Father!

The Small Catechism by Martin Luther in Contemporary English, Augsburg Publishing, ©1960,1968