“OMG!” We have all seen that meme. It’s the ubiquitous cultural phrase to describe our shock or surprise and of course we say it means, “Oh, my goodness” or “Oh, my gosh.” But those are really replacement words for the casual use of God’s name in what is an expletive phrase or profane acronym that everyone (including many Christians) just tosses off casually or chuckles at. Christians do not consider regularly how they are to think about the name of God and how Scripture commands us to regard His name.

A Name Worthy of Honor

In Matthew 6 Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount. He has just finished saying that God is to be addressed as Father—God is personal and intimately cares about His children. Jesus then goes on to say, “Hallowed be your name.” What is a name? A name describes a characteristic of the person, creature, or thing that bears a particular name. We choose names carefully whether it’s for a building, a beloved pet, or a newborn baby. Jesus is saying that the very name of God is to be hallowed—honored as holy.

But why should Christians honor the very name of God as Holy? God’s name is to be holy since it speaks to the essence of who He is and why He is holy. Question 7 of the Westminster Larger Catechism says: What is God? Answer: God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy (Isaiah 6:3), most just, most merciful and gracious (Exod. 33:6-7), longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. This answer gets to the reason why we are to honor God’s name as holy because He is all those characteristics and more. In Genesis 2:19-20 God creates man and has Adam name all the creatures that God has created. But Adam does not name God—God in Scripture names Himself. In Exodus 3, Moses asks God His name and God not only tells Moses His name but also in His name, God describes His works. God is I AM—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3: 13-15)—the name by which He is to be known for all eternity. The God of His people.

God’s name is to be hallowed by His people. Jesus tells His disciples that His people must address God Himself as holy. God’s people are to recognize who He is and what He has done and proclaim the work of His salvation. Jesus is teaching us to focus our prayers with first importance on the person of God—to be reverent as we recognize “the godness of God”[1] not in a casual way that profanes His name but with awe in recognition of His holiness as well as His goodness because this holy God is also our Father. We are in an intimate relationship with the God of the universe who has called us His child (Eph. 1).

All Will Hallow His Name

But it’s not merely Christians who are to hallow the name of God. Ultimately every person who has ever lived will hallow the name of God. In Psalm 150:6, the psalmist calls for everything that has breath—every creature—to praise the Lord. In the heavenly realms, Revelation 4:8 says, “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” And then in verse 10 the twenty-four elders declare, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Literally every created being in eternity will hallow and praise the name of God. Revelation 5:13 says, “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

As we approach the Lord in prayer, we are to be in awe of Him as we enter into His presence not with a cavalier approach to the person of God but giving Him the praise He deserves. Psalm 29: 2 says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” As we pray to God, His name is not to be a flippant afterthought but to be honored since He alone is worthy of our worship and our praise.

[1] Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God, (Baker Books, 2019), xii.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Melanie Cogdill

Melanie Cogdill is the general editor of Beyond the Roles: A Biblical Foundation for Women and Ministry (CDM, 2019). She is on the PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM) National Women’s Ministry team as a women’s ministry trainer and serves as an advisor to CDM’s Permanent Committee. In addition, she is the managing editor of the Christian Research Journal and the host of its weekly podcast Postmodern Realities (available on Apple podcasts and most podcast platforms).