What does ‘hallowed be thy name’ in the Lord’s Prayer mean? from Compelling Truth
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1), He responded with what has been called the Lord’s Prayer, or sometimes the Disciples’ Prayer. Jesus’ model prayer began with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). “Hallowed” in the original Greek is hagiazo and it means “to make, render, or declare as sacred or holy, or to mentally venerate or revere.” So when Jesus instructed His disciples to say “hallowed be thy name,” He was declaring that God’s name is holy and showing reverence to that name.
In Jewish culture, names were not simply a way to call a person, but rather names were meant to reflect a person’s character, to show the essence of his/her identity, and to declare that person’s destiny. This cultural practice is seen when God changed Jacob’s name after they wrestled through the night. The name Jacob meant “heel catcher” or “trickster” (beckoning back to his birth story); God changed his name to “Israel,” meaning “one who strives with God” (Genesis 32:24–28). Likewise in John 1:42, Jesus changed one of His disciples’ names from “Simon,” meaning “one who hears,” to “Peter,” meaning “rock.”
When Moses asked God what name he should tell the Israelites was the name of the God sending him to rescue them from Egypt, God replied, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3:14). The name of God YHWH is linked to this concept of His self-existence. God’s name was thought to be so holy that Jews would not utter it aloud for fear of profaning it. YHWH, also called the tetragrammaton or written as Yahweh or Jehovah, simply became known as “the Name” or Ha Shem in Hebrew. Even today, many Jews will write “G–d” rather than “God” in order to show reverence to God’s name.
The reason Jews, including our Lord Jesus, expressed reverence to God’s name is because of the way the name represents the person to whom it belongs. Saying that God’s name is holy or expressing reverence toward it is the same as declaring God Himself to be holy and worthy of our worship. The phrase “hallowed be thy name” is meant to remind us that God is perfect, pure, holy, and worthy of all praise and honor. It is a way to echo the angels in heaven who declare, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 7:12).