Article of the Month





What Does It Mean to Hallow God's Name?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott


Much of the problem of prayer in our time is the lack of reverence. Does this reflect today’s growing irreverence for fatherhood, both human and divine?

In our study of Jesus’ model prayer of Matthew chapter six, we next come to the phrase, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Let me suggest that an appropriate theme or key-word for this phrase of the prayer is reverence.

Today’s Irreverence for Fatherhood - Human and Divine

In our day, not only is the name of God blasphemed, but the very name and position of “father” is being dragged into all sorts of disrepute and perversion. Television situation comedies often depict the father as the buffoon who is outwitted and insulted by his wife and children, or as the boorish male who needs to “get in touch with his feminine side.” Public education systems deliberately and systematically feminize young boys so that many of them grow up in utter confusion about the God-ordained institution of fatherhood, and with utter disregard and disrespect for the Biblical institution of marriage.

So-called same-sex “marriage” has opened the door to households in which two sexually perverted women legally adopt children and no father is present. Or, one of them may artificially conceive and give birth to a so-called “fatherless” child. Or, two sexually perverted men may become the “fathers” of a poor hapless child who is adopted under the laws that now permit sodomites to do so. Or, the “child” of these two men may be artificially conceived and borne (for a price) by a woman who is the wife of neither and will have no part in the child’s upbringing.

Rampant divorce, even among postmodern Evangelicals, is producing millions of households in which children know nothing of the constant love and discipline of a Biblical father. Nearly half of the Western world’s children are now born out of wedlock, and many of them are abandoned by their biological fathers at an early age.

Never before in history have the role and position of fatherhood been under Satanic attack from so many directions, and as a result held in such disrepute. Christians must recognize this for what it ultimately is: not only an attack upon the Biblical institution of fatherhood on a human level, but an attack upon the Biblical teaching concerning the Fatherhood of God.

In fact, we live in a time of open and direct attack on the person of God the Father. Once-sound churches now hold services in which it is not God the Father who is worshipped, but Gaia the “earth mother” or Sophia the goddess of wisdom. Women are being taught that they themselves are goddesses. Naomi Goldenberg, in her book Changing of the Gods, declares with chilling frankness that “the feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh.” She goes on to state, with all the rebellious venom we find described in Romans 1:18-32, “It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground, we will completely outgrow the need for an external God.”1

True Christians must reject every iota of this. God our Father will not be brought to the ground by the puny fist of man - or woman. He alone is God. We must cling to the Biblical doctrine of fatherhood, both human and Divine, and the very first place where this must be true is in our praying. We pray to a heavenly Father for whom we must have the utmost reverence, and whose name we must guard with zeal.

The Meaning of “Hallowed”

The very first statement of the believer’s model prayer to the Father is, “Hallowed be Thy name.” The Greek root word here is hagiazo, to sanctify or to be holy. The word is the opposite of the Greek word koinos, which means “common”. We could legitimately translate these words thus: “Holy be Thy name” - “May Thy name be set apart, sanctified, holy.” The linguistic opposite is also true: “May Thy name never be associated with that which is common or profane.”

Postmodern Bibles Debase the Term

Another indication of the spiritual declension of our times is the way in which contemporary Bible versions weaken and debase what is an exceedingly strong and unequivocal term in the original language. “Hallowed be Thy name” becomes the far weaker “May your name be honored” in the New International Reader’s Version, and “Help us to honor your name” in the Contemporary English Version. It becomes the vague and nebulous “Reveal who you are” in The Message, the favored pseudo-Bible of the Purpose-Driven Church movement.

These mistranslations indicate the low regard in which postmodern Bible translators hold the name of God. This is to say nothing of postmodern Bible perversions that remove all references to God as Father, and other gender-specific terms that are part of the inspired text, in the pursuit of political correctness.

The Position of the True Believer: Zeal for the Name

True believers in Christ must abhor all of this. God’s name is synonymous with His person. God is jealous for the holiness of His name, and true believers must be zealous for it.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

You shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:12)

If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. (Psalm 44:20-21)

We Are to Worship the Name

Believers are exhorted to worship the very name of the Lord:

Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:2)

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3)

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name - it is holy. (Psalm 99:1-3)

His name shall be upon our foreheads in the New Heaven and New Earth for eternity:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:1-4)

We Are to Reverently Approach the Father

We must give reverence to the name of God the Father in everything we say and do, and especially as we come to Him in prayer.

My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass. But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. (Psalm 102:11-12)

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! (Psalm 105:3)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Even Jesus addressed the Father as “Holy Father” (John 17:11). It is worth noting, while we are on this subject, that “Holy Father” is a title reserved for the God of the universe, not for a Pope of Rome.

A Proper Approach to God Entails a Proper View of Ourselves

Keeping the holiness of God and of His name at the forefront of our thinking cannot help but cause us to have a proper view of ourselves as we come before Him - totally unworthy of the least of His favor apart from the merits of Christ, in every sense the objects of His grace in both the present life and the life to come. This was the realization of Isaiah in his great vision of the throne room of God:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:1-5)

Today’s Prayer Problem: Lack of Reverence

Much of the problem of prayer in our time is the lack of reverence. Much of the Evangelical church is preaching that God the Father is nothing more than a cosmic genie at our command, and that coming to God in prayer is the equivalent of rubbing a lamp and making a wish. This is the message of self-esteem-driven postmodern Evangelicalism, of the “prosperity gospel”, and of the word-of-faith heresy.

Such ideas are absolutely foreign to the Biblical doctrine of prayer. True Christian prayer is an act of deep reverence, an act of worship, as we approach the throne of the Holy God of the universe.


  1. Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), pages 4 and 25.


Dr. Paul M. Elliott Dr. Paul M. Elliott is a founder and president of TeachingTheWord Ministries, and the regular speaker on The Scripture-Driven Church broadcast.

Raised in a Christian home, Dr. Elliott came to personal saving faith in Christ at an early age in the 1960s. He was a manager and consultant in the business world before God called him to the ministry. A frequent conference, seminar, and pulpit speaker, he holds a doctorate in Biblical exegesis, and has written four full-length books and hundreds of articles and booklets. Dr. Elliott and his wife live in Westminster, Maryland and their home church is in nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1998, TeachingTheWord is committed to the task of evangelizing the world and edifying the saints, which is Christ’s Great Commission. TeachingTheWord seeks to support individual believers and the local church by carefully communicating Biblical truth, and addressing issues confronting individual Christians, families, and churches.

TeachingTheWord’s ministry is based on the proposition that Christ’s church must be the Scripture-driven church; God’s inspired, inerrant Word must be our sole authority, and our infallible critic, in every area of life and ministry.

Teaching theWord Ministries
Box 2533, Westminster, Maryland 21158, USA
In North America, toll-free: 888-804-9655


  Please join others who have commented upon this and other topics in our Discussion Group.

      Back to Library 

Return to the Main Highway

Calvinism and the Reformed Faith Index