Right before he gave them the language of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus was helping his disciples understand what their prayer life ought to look like:
“When you pray,” he said, “don’t pray like those hypocrites who love to be noticed by others trying to prove their own righteousness. You pray in secret to Your Father, behind closed doors where no one can see you. He sees you, and he will gladly hear your prayer.”
Jesus went on, “Another thing: when you pray, don’t babble on like the pagans. They think it takes lots of words for God to hear and understand them, but that’s just not true. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you utter a single word. You, therefore, pray like this:
Our Father in heaven!
Hallowed be Thy name….”
Let’s pause there.
What might Jesus have seen as he stood on that Mount, teaching his disciples to pray? As he said each line, what did he imagine? What picture painted itself in living color upon his heart and mind as he said the words:
Hallowed be Thy name.
My Complete Jewish Translation renders the line this way:
May your name be kept holy.
This gets closer to the active side of “hallowedness” or “holiness.” If you haven’t yet read my post earlier this week on beauty, holiness and Sabbath keeping, you might find it helpful before moving any further into this imaginative prayer practice.
When imagining what Jesus might have been thinking as he uttered these beginning lines of his prayer, one thing we might ask is: Were these words of his and their ordering unusual to his listeners? Would they have been confused by these lines? Is this some great departure from their well-established prayer rituals?
The answer is, no.
In a footnote of my Complete Jewish Study Bible, the translators offer the following:
All the elements of the Lord’s Prayer identify with the Judaism of [Jesus’s] day and do not originate within [his] earthly ministry. The first words, “Our Father in heaven” (Avinu sh’ba Shammayim), are likewise found at the beginning of many Hebrew prayers. The next two lines recall the first portion of the synagogue prayer knowns as the Kaddish, which says, “Magnified and Sanctified be his great name throughout all the world, which he has created according to his will…”
Hallowed be thy name in Jesus’s mind is the Father’s great name being magnified and sanctified throughout all the world. Just as it was in the beginning.
Did Jesus see his Garden home when he spoke this line? Was he back in the holiness of time, his triune presence dwelling with his humans and filling Eden? Could he smell the cool of the morning dew? Did he feel the breeze across his face as he took his afternoon walks with man and woman? Was his heart resting in the completeness of shalom, listening as they shared with him that day’s happy experiments? They had made their first attempt at grafting vines for growing new grape varieties. Oh, and they planted those seeds they’d found last week in the new tilled section at the southern edge of the Garden, pushing out its boundaries a little more than the week before.
What I just wrote above comes from my own imagining. The holiness of time captures my attention at a deep soul level. And so, this is where my imagination goes first. There are dozens of stories and scenes from the beginning of the Scripture on, of holiness: both the Lord’s holiness, and his people’s participation in “hallowing” His name—especially through the honoring of Shabbat.
I invite you now to pause, close your eyes, and imagine what Jesus might have been “seeing” as he said the words, hallowed be thy name. Invite the Holy Spirit to give you an image of holiness. Please don’t be discouraged if nothing comes immediately to mind. Be patient. Rest in his presence. Even if it is only a faint glimmering of something, or maybe an idea rather than an image. Once you have “seen” something, write it down.
Spend the next 3-5 minutes (longer if you like) writing what you saw in free write style: with no concern for sentence structure, correct grammar, etc. If it is a string of descriptive words in list form, that’s okay. If it’s a single sentence taking up half the page, great. Maybe you’d rather draw what you saw. Beautiful. Your main objective is simply to get your image (or idea) out of your head and onto paper.
If you stop here for the day, that is enough. Ask the Spirit to keep working His holiness image in you and through you—your emotions and your intellect. Ask him to miracle your “seeing” as you go about the rest of your day, and reveal what he might want you to know more about him and holiness. Especially as it might relate to this season of your life.
Go back to your image and your writing (or drawing) about it. Was it connected to a particular scene or story in Scripture? Look up the passage. Read it slowly. What is happening in this scripture? Pay attention to what raises your eyebrows. What captures your curiosity? What are all the other associations you can make—both in Scripture and in life around you—connected to this idea?
Spend time meditating on these things. For me this happens with pen and paper. I make word maps, scribble notes in odd places, look up corresponding passages highlighted by the same theme and write down what I find in these as well. I write down “ah-ha” moments as they come. I make note of any new connections I’ve made or understanding I’ve gained.
Pray. Ask the Lord how he would have you now live?
Delight! Who are we that the Lord on High, the King of Kings and Most Holy One would invite us to spend this intimate time with him, so we might live evermore into his holiness? And yet, here we are, a little lower than the angels, called into his family as sons and daughters, co-rulers of his Kingdom.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” –Revelation 21:3