Question: "What does hallowed be thy name in the Lord's Prayer mean?"

Answer: The Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6, begins with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). To hallow something is to make it holy or separate it or sanctify it. Jesus taught His followers to pray that God the Father would “hallow” His name. Significantly, this request comes first. It is of primary importance for God to hallow His name.

In what way do we want God to hallow His name? In what way is His name to be set apart or made holy? One writer explains it this way: “When Jesus petitions God to hallow his name, he is asking that God act in such a way that he visibly demonstrates his holiness and his glory” (Albert Mohler in The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution, p. 61). God demonstrates His holiness in the world by creating a holy people who will call on His name, proclaim the gospel, and accomplish good works (Ephesians 2:10).

No one likes to have his or her name forgotten, misspelled, or mispronounced. Our names are part of our identity and individual worth. We value having a “good name,” that is, a blameless reputation. In a similar way, God’s name speaks of His identity, His character, and His actions. When David says, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake,” he is referring to God’s action of hallowing His name in the way He guides us (Psalm 23:3; cf. Isaiah 48:9–11 and Ezekiel 20:14). God’s name—His character and reputation—must be set apart as holy in this world, and that is what Jesus teaches us to pray for.

The request “hallowed be your name” comes first in the Lord’s Prayer. Right away, Jesus removes the focus from us and turns our attention to God. It’s about Him, His holiness, and His work in the world. Jesus taught us to begin our prayers by recognizing the God to whom we pray. He is a loving Father who invites us into His presence. He genuinely cares for us. God is holy and worthy of all honor, and our first priority is to pray that the world would see how holy and glorious He is.

On a different occasion, Jesus prayed for His followers: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:15–19). The word sanctify in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer is a translation of the same Greek word translated “hallowed” in Matthew 6:9. Jesus prayed this specifically for His disciples, but also for those who would believe in Him through their message—meaning all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ (John 17:20). As children of God (John 1:12), we are called to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

First Peter 3:15 tells us to “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” Revere in this verse is another translation of the Greek word for “hallowed.” One of the ways in which we hallow God’s name is to recognize Jesus as Lord and live our lives to honor God. We incline our hearts toward Him, put our hope in Him, obey Him, and share about Him with others. May we follow Jesus’ model prayer, and may “hallowed be your name” be the true desire of our hearts.