Just after Jesus explained how NOT to pray: to impress other people or mindlessly fill the air with words in hopes of impressing God (Matt 6:5-8), the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray like He did. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” (Matt 6:9)

First, we must come before the Lord not with demands, but with love in our hearts for Him that we humbly show Him: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courtyards with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Ps 100:4) Every prayer should start with thanksgiving and praise. Jesus demonstrated that at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41), and when He was about to feed thousands in the wilderness (Luke 9:16).

Jesus came to make it possible for mankind to be in relationship with God the Father through faith. To resist a relationship with God the Father, even in prayer, is to resist Jesus’ will for His followers. This reference to God as “Father” separates Christian prayer from many other faiths: to begin a prayer with the equivalent of “Our Father in heaven” is unthinkable for non-Christians.

For our prayers to be effective, we should learn to enter the presence of God with a grateful heart, without regard for what we are going through in life. We must learn to appreciate God for who He is and for what he has done for us. This will make our prayers get to the heart of God fast. However we must be careful not to use this as a formula to get to God, we must know that we cannot deceive God, we must thank Him because we love Him and because of His unconditional love for us, not just because we want Him to answer our prayers.

The second phrase in Christ’s model prayer expresses praise for something true about God: that His name is “hallowed,” which can also be translated as “Your name is holy.” From Strong’s concordance, the Greek root is Hagiós, meaning “a feeling of reverential respect filled with fear and wonder”, we see the meaning to be as the absolutely Holy one in His purity, majesty, and glory; free from every fault — immaculate. And the Greek word hosios, which means harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (Heb 7:26).

Names are highly significant in Scriptures and the “name of God” brings with it unlimited power and purity. Proclaiming to God that His name is holy is to acknowledge His absolute greatness, while noting that we are humbling ourselves to Him as our Father in Heaven, who is absolutely holy. We aren’t to address Him as we would a long-time friend: He is our Creator God, who is absolutely holy, and we must address Him in this manner. And we must not use His name in any other manner, such as to damn someone or something. His name is only to be addressed in awe. Those who misuse His name, shouldn’t expect Him to hear their prayers.