How then does his name become holy among us? Answer (in order to speak as explicitly as we can):– When both our doctrine and our life are godly and Christian. For since we call God our Father in this prayer, we are under obligation to demean and conduct ourselves in every respect as pious children, that he may derive honor and praise from us, and not disgrace. Now, his name is profaned either by words or by actions; for all that we perform on earth, is comprehended in word and deed, in speaking and in doing.
Thus, in the first place, it is profaned, when something that is false or seducing, is preached, taught, or spoken under the pretext of the Divine name, so that his name must adorn the falsehood, and give it credibility. Now, this is the greatest indignity and dishonor to the name of God. It is, moreover, violated, when it is grossly employed as a covering for infamy, by swearing, cursing, deceiving, &c.
In the second place, it is profaned by a dissolute life, and deeds manifestly wicked,– when those who are called Christians and the people of God, are adulterers, inebriates, epicures, and envious detractors; here again the name of God must be exposed to reproach and shame on our account. For even as it is a shame and a dishonor to a natural father, who has a wicked, ill-bred child trespassing against him in words and actions, so that he must, on account of the child, be scorned and abused; so it also reflects dishonor on God, if we who are called after his name, and enjoy all kinds of blessings from him, teach, speak, and live otherwise than pious and heavenly children; so that he must hear it said of us: "You cannot be the children of God, but the children of the devil."
Thus you perceive, that we pray even in this article for the same which God requires in the second commandment, namely, that his name be not abused in swearing, cursing, lying, cheating, &c., but that it be employed usefully to the honor and praise of God. For whoever uses the name of God to any vicious purpose, profanes and desecrates this holy name: even as in former times a church was called desecrated, if murder, or some other malicious act had been perpetrated in it, or if the tabernacle or sanctuary had been disgraced, as this was holy in itself, but had become unholy in its use. Thus this article is clear and distinct, if we but understand the expression correctly, that to sanctify or hallow signifies as much as to praise, extol, and honor both with words and actions.
Here then, observe, how highly necessary such prayer is. For, since we see how the world is filled with sects and false teachers, all using this holy name as a covering and a pretext for their diabolical doctrines, we should justly cry out and exclaim, without intermission, against all these, both, those who teach and believe false doctrines, and those who assail and persecute our Gospel and pure doctrine, endeavoring to suppress it; for instance, all the bishops, tyrants, fanatics, &c. It is, moreover, also necessary for ourselves, who have the Word of God, but are not thankful for it, and do not live according to it as we should. Now, if you pray for this from your heart, you can be certain that it is well-pleasing to God; for nothing does he hear more favorably and affectionately, than that his honor and praise prevail above all things, and that his Word is purely taught, and held dear and high in estimation.