Audio Worship, 4/7/2024, "Hallowed Be Your Name" Matthew 6.5-15

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1632

April 7, 2024

Matthew 6.5-15       Click here for audio worship.

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)


“Hallowed Be Your Name”


And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


  • What is Prayer?


According to the Larger Catechism prayer is “offering our desires to God in the name of Christ with the help of His Spirit, confessing our sins and thankfully recognizing His mercies” (Q. 178). I think one of the important aspects of prayer in that answer is that we pray “with the help of His Spirit”. For the Christian this is most evident when we do not know what to pray. Paul teaches us that the Spirit intercedes for us in those moments.26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8.26-27). The weakness that Paul refers to is our human frailty for knowing what to pray or what to discern or trying to figure things out on our own. So the Holy Spirit helps us to pray just as Jesus teaches us to pray. Note as well the end of verse 27, that the Spirit intercedes, prays for us, according to the will of God. This is also one of our goals in prayer, to pray according to His will. That means we do not pray in ways or for things that would not be in line with God’s purpose for our lives.

Prayer is not like rubbing the proverbial lamp and asking the genie to grant us three wishes. Prayer is coming into the presence of God to seek His will for all that we ask and desire for life. Prayer is submitting our lives to God and seeking contentment in whatever the Lord has for us. Prayer is our communication with the Creator, mediated in Christ, and with the help of the Helper, the Spirit of God. We do not need to always know the right thing to say, but we do need to come into the presence of God in reverence and humility.

There have been hundreds of books written on the discipline of prayer. What we know for certain is that prayer is vital to the life of the believer. We all are called on to pray. As you know I constantly suggest that people visit the book of Psalms to learn to pray as the Psalms pray. In them we find expressions and a vocabulary of prayer. In the Psalms are prayers of praise, thanks, lament, confession, intercession, supplication, and I would suggest anything and everything we could possibly need in this life to bring before the throne of grace. Everything from “why have you forsaken me?” to “all the families of the nations shall worship before you,” and those two phrases from the same Psalm (Ps 22).

  • Teach Us to Pray


The disciples were so moved by watching Jesus pray, they asked Him to teach them to pray in Luke 11.1. This is what led Jesus to give us what we know refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. It is the model prayer to begin our journey into prayer. It is not the only prayer in the Bible, of course, for there are many prayers that also teach us something about praying. And from those prayers and other Scriptures we learn more and more about what it means to pray. The Larger Catechism asks, “How should we pray?” The answer: we should approach God with reverent awareness of His majesty and a deep sense of our own unworthiness...and sins. We should be repentant, giving thanks, with sincerity and faith and love, submitting to His will (Q. 185). The catechism then goes on with teaching on the Lord’s Prayer. (Side note: we can learn a lot from the confession of the church and the catechism, not just as children, but to revisit these teachings as adults).

John Calvin asks what should stir our hearts to pray? His answer is twofold: 1) God commands us to pray, 2) God promises to give us what we ask (Matt 7.7; Ps 50.15) in accordance with His will. Calvin goes on to examine the Lord’s Prayer and the six petitions offered in the prayer – three to God’s glory and three to our needs. The first three petitions glorify God and the last three seek those things we need to the glory of God. In essence this makes the entire prayer to the glory of God. Today we are going to examine the beginning of the prayer and the first petition.


  • Draw Near to God


The prayer begins with “Our Father in heaven…”


Our – not a private prayer but one made in community. That simple word makes us aware that we are not alone in prayer, not alone as a detached autonomous person in prayer, but we are part of a community of pray-ers. We share a familial connection as a people with the same Heavenly Father. We are in prayer together even when we might be praying alone. This is our Father, together, collectively and connected as the family of God both in this one congregation of believers but also connected to the whole church everywhere.


Father – This God is the Father of the Son, Jesus Christ. He is also our heavenly Father thus making us the children of God adopted into the family, the church. The term Father should give us confidence to enter into prayer knowing God’s goodness and provision as the One who cares for and loves His children. Jesus was teaching an intimate way to address God unlike anything the disciples had heard before. This is not just the God who is King of the universe, but the God who is Father to His children and that brings a different dimension to prayer. We should still pray addressing God as King and Almighty and Majestic, but we can also address God as Abba, Father. There is still a great reverence in the term Father because we will also see the complete phrase of hallowing His name.

When we take up the prayer in unison, as the community of faith, we are also taking up an address as Father that brings a certain closeness to God and to one another. This is our daddy! Now, to many that sounds too personal, too informal, not respectful enough. I understand that, but recognize that the address as Father does bring a certain familiarity, a certain closeness, a certain intimacy that no other term brings when addressing God. It really gives a deeper meaning to the love of God for His people and even for the world.

Philip Yancy writes that Jesus was most at ease when entering into prayer with the Father and at unease with the world (Prayer, pg 57). As I reflect on that statement, I think of how we can become so distracted and upset by what is going on in the world and the best way to regain perspective, to renew our minds, and to reset our priorities is to come to God in prayer.


In heaven – speaks to the exalted nature of God. This is addressing God as One above the fray of the world. He is beyond us, highly enthroned upon the praises of His people (Psalm 22.3). And yet, we draw near to God who is our Father, a relationship that reveals a certain intimacy like a father and child.



  • Honor to His Name


Hallowed be Your name…this is the first petition. We seek to honor God’s name as our Father in heaven. Hallowed basically means holy, to be set apart, no name like this name. To proclaim the holiness of God’s name is not just to set God apart, but it is also for our benefit. We come before God hallowing His name to remind us that we are nothing apart from God. We are resetting our mindset to know that this is the God above all gods and we are not God! It is You, O God, not me! We learn this also from Psalm 115.1, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” See! The Psalms teach us about prayer!

Adoration is normally the first movement in prayer. Now, there are times, especially in desperation when we may not formally begin here. But even if we are address God first with a question like, why must I suffer so? The fact that we are praying to God is an acknowledgment of His majesty and power. We have not gone to a false god. We have not, not prayed at all, but we go to the One we know as Father, Lord, the One to be prayed to because He is like no other.



There is something significant in this opening to the prayer:

1. It calls us to remember who God is.

2. It calls us to remember who we are.

3. It calls us to remember who we are in relationship to one another.

(Noted by Tyler Staton in Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, pg 56.)


God is our Father, we are His children, and we are related in this familial covenant of love and grace.


The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer, not only for giving us something to pray in worship and not the only prayer we should ever use, but a prayer that also teaches us something more about prayer itself. It is a guide to how we might commune with the Father in the intimate discipline and privilege of prayer. We are seeking God’s will, in lifting high His name and seeking to bring glory to His name even through asking for things for ourselves, for our needs.

I hope that as we learn a little bit more about the Lord’s Prayer in this short series, we will begin to see the prayer as more than just something we say each Sunday in worship, but the depth and power of what Jesus teaches us will rekindle our understanding of the significance of this prayer and help us focus beyond a rote repetition to truly grasp what we are doing in praying together this prayer. Amen.