Our Father, who lives in the heavens,
May Your name be kept holy.
May Your Kingdom come,
May Your will be done,
On earth just like it’s done in Your presence.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Don’t bring us to the times of trial,
But deliver us from the evil one.
When I was a kid, I had some pretty strange religious beliefs.
For instance, I determined that prayers “bounced”. Since people always prayed with their heads down, and since God was “up there” in heaven (though now I know better), I determined that our prayers must bounce off the floor and then soar up to heaven to God.
Unfortunately (for me), the opposite also held true: if I somehow made the mistake and prayed face up (like lying on my back in bed), then my prayers would bounce off the ceiling and go, you know, “down there.”
To the devil.
I remember one evening when I prayed to go to sleep quickly. Unfortunately, I was facing up when I did. I didn’t go to sleep until like 3 or 4am.
Well, it was probably more like 11:30, but you know how things feel when you’re a kid. It was terrifying!
I was also unreasonably concerned with the Bible. It had to be face-up on my nightstand (even if I seldom read it, much less followed its teachings), and never, ever, could something—such as my ever-present bedtime snack of a can of Coke and peanut butter toast—be set on top of the Word.
While it kept my Bible in pristine condition, this is not what God means by “holiness.”
Keeping God’s name holy is much more than setting him aside and making sure that he doesn’t get sugar or toast crumbs on Him or His bible. It’s much more revolutionary and active than that.
To state it succinctly: God’s people are entrusted with maintaining the “holiness” of God’s name.
“The house of Israel, as the chosen people of God, were the guardians of His reputation in the world. By worthy actions they brought credit upon Him and ‘sanctified His name’ … A bad action more than involved the Jew in personal guilt; it was treachery to his God and people.” (Abraham Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud, 23)
In the book of Ezekiel, God lays it out plainly: “But when they (the Israelites) were scattered among the nations, they brought shame on my holy name. For the nations said, ‘These are the people of the LORD, but he couldn’t keep them safe in his own land.’ Then I was concerned for my holy name, on which my people brought shame among the nations.” (36:20-21)
There’s something almost human and tender about the idea that God—the Creator of the universe—allows His reputation to hinge on the behavior or humanity. He is not above being hurt by us, and He openly entrusts this to us.
So to pray “may Your name be kept holy” is to actually pray , “God may I live my life in such a way that I enhance your reputation in the world. May my life be filled with the fruit of Your Holy Spirit so that people will see my life and wonder, ‘What fuels her life? What or Who is behind that?'”
It’s about a whole lot more than just making sure your bible isn’t a coaster.
- What does it mean to you that we are entrusted with God’s reputation?
- Understanding that your life is on stage, are you “keeping God’s name holy”? On Facebook? On Twitter? In “da club”?