What does this mean? “God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also (SC, The First Petition).
Thus, in this prayer, we pray the Lord enable us to keep the 2nd Commandment, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.” We pray that we keep His name hallowed—that is, holy—on our lips. Recalling Luther’s explanation of the Commandment, we pray we do not use God’s name to “curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name” but rather “call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.” His name, therefore, is not like any other name, for it is only in His name that we engage in such things. If we do use any other name for these purposes, then we have broken the 1st Commandment and erected an idol—a false god—in our hearts.
We do not pray that God’s name become holy, since it is holy in and of itself, but that His name remains holy on our lips. God’s name remains holy on our lips when we call upon Him in every trouble, when we pray, praise Him, and give thanks to Him (in essence, when we fear, love, and trust in Him above all things with our lips). We profane His name when we use it to curse others (wish death upon them in His name), participate in the occult claiming God is present (e.g., psychics, mediums), swear (e.g., “G-d damn it,” “Jesus Christ!”), and deceive with His name by teaching all manner of false doctrine and heresy.
We are baptised into God’s name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Therefore, we ought to use His holy name rightly. And since we relapse into sin so often as the sinful addicts we are, we ought to daily pray that we hallow His name on our lips, lest we bear false witness about His name in our lives and so deceive others by our false witness. For His name is not for the ill of His baptised children, but for our benefit. He has given us His personal name because He is a personal God. He is so personal that He has baptised us into holy adoption that we now bear His name, just as an adopted child bears the surname of her father. He therefore desires that we use it, and use it rightly, to call upon Him in every trouble, prayer (which means petition), praise, and thanksgiving.
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