Read Matthew 6:9
9 Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy. (NLT)
In older times, names meant different things. A name often signified an occupation (Baker, Cooper). A name could represent a certain role (Jesus, which means ‘God saves’). And even nowadays, we can speak of someone having a good name, which means they have a good reputation or character.
This last meaning applies to statements in the Bible which speak of God’s ‘name’. The phrase doesn’t refer to a sequence of letters but to character. We do things in God’s name or pray in Jesus’ name, meaning we act and pray consistently with the character of God and of Jesus.
So when we pray that God’s name be hallowed, or kept holy, we are in effect praying that God himself be honoured, treated as special. The very first petition in the Lord’s Prayer is not about our getting something but about God getting something. This model prayer has no phrase which specifically asks us to live God’s way, but this is pretty close to it.
We have a role to play in honouring the character of God, reflecting something of his holiness, his mercy, his justice. God’s name, or character, is honoured by how his people live. And of course dishonoured by how we live!
It is misleading to simply regard this phrase as a safeguard against blasphemy, using the literal divine names as casual swear words (wrong though that is). It is more to do with upholding the true nature of who God is by how our lives reflect it. So easy to skip over it, so hard to live up to it.