“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” – Matthew 6:9B NASB
- “Father” is from “Πάτερ” (patér) which literally means “father”. According to Thayer’s greek lexicon, the word “pater” can properly signify “generator or male ancestor” and can mean both the nearest male relative, or a more remote ancestor (forefather).
who is in heaven
- “Heaven” is translated from “οὐρανοῖς” (ouranos) which can refer to the “heavens” in the context of the earthly atmosphere, or the spiritual heaven. Based on the context, the application of the term to the spiritual heaven is appropriate here.
- “Hallowed be” is translated from “Ἁγιασθήτω” (hagiazó) which means “to make holy, consecrate, sanctify”.
- “Name” is translated from “ὄνομά” (onoma) which means “name, authority, or cause”.
How then shall we pray?
The first phrase of the Lord’s Prayer calls us to focus on the nature and glory of God. In following this prayer, the person praying acknowledges that God is his or her father. Based on the language used, “father” in this case means not biological father, but progenitor or forefather. This includes acknowledging him as our creator, but also implies a familial tie. This also clearly separates YHWH (Yaweh) from any goddess or “mother god”.
Next, the person praying acknowledges that God is in heaven. This is important because God “does not dwell in houses made by human hands” (Acts 7:48). This again separates God from other deities, who may be said to dwell in a certain city, or on a certain mountain, as well as from any form of pantheism. It also sets God apart from humanity, his creation. It is noteworthy that some passages in scripture speak of times when God will “make his dwelling among men” (Ezekiel 37:27 and Revelation 21:3). The continued use of this prayer is an admission that the final fulfillment of that prophecy has not yet come.
When the supplicant states “hallowed be your name”, they are expressing a desire or intent that God’s name would be revered, and set apart or regarded as holy. Why is this important? After all, why does the bible consider it a terrible act to take God’s name in vain, but not, say, the names of Steve, Phil, or Laura? The reason is that the name of God is more than just a simple identifying factor, like a post-it note or a name tag. God’s name signifies his nature, authority, and identity. When a person prays that God’s name would be revered, they are praying that God himself would be revered. As an aside, this reverence for God’s name is one of the reasons why saying things like “there are many ways to God” is blasphemous, and should not be tolerated in any church.
In summary, the first portion of the Lord’s Prayer teaches his followers to recognize God positionally as their father and progenitor and as one who dwells in heaven, setting God apart from 1. Any type of goddess, 2. Any deity which dwells on earth or is part of (or the sum of) nature, and 3. From humanity itself. The prayer then teaches the Christian to personally revere God, and to pray that God would be revered in general.
Bible Hub Interlinear Bible (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2020, from https://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/6-9.htm
Definitions quotes from Strong’s Concordance and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as referenced from the Bible Hub Interlinear Bible