“Teach Us to Pray: Hallowed Be Thy Name”
By Rev. Greg Smith
Pastor and author E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) said, “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.” This is perhaps more true today than when he first penned these words. We live in an era where churches are obsessed with goals and strategies, mission statements and programs. These are all the machineries of church growth, we believe. But what we really need is men and women committed to prayer.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:4),” the Master gave them The Lord’s Prayer. When each phrase is used as a prayer guide to your more personalized communication with God, The Lord’s Prayer can be a deeply moving and useful tool for keeping yourself on track in your prayer time.
The first phrase, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name (Matthew 6:9),” is an expression of praise and worship to God. The Lord’s Prayer begins and ends with praise. “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever (Matthew ).” Whether public or private, our prayer time should begin and end with praising God.
Why should we begin and end in praise? Because God is holy. John shows angels and elders and living creatures all bowed before God in worship. “Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8)." Beginning and ending your prayer time with praise recognizes the holiness of God.
We should praise God because God is worthy. “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11).’” God deserves more praise than we could ever utter, so why not begin and end our prayer times that way?
Larry Crabb, author of The PAPA Prayer, says that when what we want and what we seek more than anything else in prayer is a relationship with God, then we get what we want when we pray, every time we pray. Prayer teacher Daniel Henderson puts it this way, “Seek God’s face, not just his hand.” He says that if you approach a friend who’s got money in his hand and talk with that friend, all the while looking at his hand instead of his face, you’ve got your priorities wrong. Yet how often do we seek a hand of blessing without seeking relationship with our loving God?
In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to begin and end our prayer time with praise. Only after you begin with praise should you ask for what’s in God’s hand. When we begin with praise and worship, His kingdom will come on earth as it is in Heaven, because “God inhabits the praises” of His people (Psalm 22:3).