Being a father, my goal is to be the best I can be, at least, be the kind of father that God wants me to be. I often fail like all of us, but I thought it might be interesting to think about Jesus’ thoughts about the Father.
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon” (Luke 11:2).
For those of us who have grown up praying the Lord’s Prayer, we find it familiar and comfortable to address God as Father. But it’s hard for us to relate to the extraordinary invitation of Jesus as he teaches us how to address God. We can simply turn our hearts to God and say, “Father.”
Why is This So Amazing?
Well, before Jesus, people didn’t speak to God in such a personal way. Though the Old Testament sometimes pictures God as a father to Israel (for example, Psalm 103:13), and though Jews could address God as “our Father in heaven,” the simplicity and intimacy of Jesus’ “Father” is unprecedented.
The fact that Jesus referred to God as “my Father” or, more simply, “Father,” was a potentially scandalous presumption. Yet, given his unique relationship with his heavenly Father, we might allow Jesus this extraordinarily familiar communication. But the fact that Jesus invites us to address God as Father boggles the mind, or at least it should.
A Word Study:
The Aramaic word that Jesus used in this prayer was Abba (see Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Abba was a word used by children in the time of Jesus, something like “Papa” or “Daddy” in contemporary English. But Abba could also be used by adult children as a term of respect, much like “Father” for us. So, this word encourages us to come before God as free, open-hearted children, while it does not surrender the respect we offer to God as we approach the King of kings and Lord of lords.
A Word Picture:
Jesus himself offered a fascinating picture of God as Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In this story, a father runs to embrace his wayward son, even as he reaches out to his obedient son as well. God as father extends himself in unimaginable love and forgiveness, always seeking reconciliation with us, his children.
- Do you address God as “Father” when you pray? Why or why not?
- What does it mean to you to speak to God as your father?
- If your father is lacking in honorable qualities, it may be difficult to address God as your Father, but we must understand the “ideal father” that Jesus set before us. How can you overcome any negative images of “father” in your heart?
- If you are a father, how are you embracing the characteristics of God as Father to your own children: love, acceptance, care, protection, familiarity, discipline, guidance, encouragement, comfort, support?
It is so amazing to speak to the God of the universe with such directness and intimacy. Sometime today, thank him for the invitation offered by Jesus to speak to God as he did. Thank him for his sacrifice that makes it possible for us to know God as our Father in heaven. Thank him for the mind-blowing, heart-filling privilege of being one of his children.