From the cradle to the grave in every language, tongue and tribe Christians have whispered the prayer given by the Lord Jesus Christ in answer to His disciples’ plea, “Lord, teach us to pray.” As our model for communicating with Heaven, the very first two words “Our Father” establish a foundation, or perhaps even a mindset for believers launching out to pray. They might also present a stumbling block for those on their pathway to developing a personal prayer life.
For many of us, varied, yet vivid, pictures are encapsulated within the name “father”. Some of us never even knew a father while others knew one quite well or, in some cases, all too well. Father is a title that invariably stirs emotions: joy …sadness… fear… anger… love… hate…or perhaps, some combination thereof. If we are tainted by the images left upon us by our earthly fathers, when we go to the Father in Heaven, we may feel distant, empty or even anxious. Yet, we may also yearn for a clearer, purer revelation of Him. However, whether absent or affectionate, self-serving or selfless we must first acknowledge that every human father is only a mere man made of clay. It is at the moment that we too, imperfect and frail, enter into the heart cry of Philip, “Lord, show us the Father” (Jn 14:8).
Jesus told us “He who has seen me has seen the Father” and that “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Jn 14:9)” (Mt 11:27) For those of us who wrestle with finding an accurate, well-balanced and “Biblical” picture of Our Father, Jesus’ words are inviting and liberating. To see Jesus is to see the Father! Jesus is the only Way to come to Him. To know Jesus is to know the Father. Many of us are quite comfortable with our thoughts and images of Jesus. Whether we picture Him as a carpenter, a Jewish rabbi, a gentle shepherd or friend, we know that He felt the sun on His face, the wind in His hair, had headaches and blisters, laughed and cried. We identify with Him in his “humanness” for though He was totally God He was also totally man. Approaching Him in prayer seems easy enough. Yet we are called to see The Father; The LORD of Hosts; The Judge; The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, prayer is far more than merely seeking to envision The Creator on His Throne. Prayer is the service of our hearts to Our Father who cares.
Jesus understood our dilemna. In Luke 15 He told a parable revealing the nature of His Father’s heart. In the tale of the prodigal son, the younger son had demanded his inheritance from his father. He insulted his father; ignored his father; regarded his father as good as dead, took the money and ran off into riotous living. The father knew that his son would end up empty and barren after squandering his birthright. His heart was broken. Yet faithfully he kept watching and waiting for his son to come home. The day of return finally came. Upon seeing his son coming towards him, dressed as a slave, the father ran out to meet him, fell on his neck and kissed him with abandon. As his child probably wept before him, confessing his sin, the father bestowed unmerited favor upon his son. He called for the honors of an heir to be restored to him: the best robe, a family signet ring and sandals. The household was commanded to prepare a joyful banquet celebrating the return of his precious child who “had been dead”. Jesus was saying that the Father who is love… looks, forgives, accepts and rejoices over all who are dead in sin and come to Him in repentance. Because of Our Lord Jesus Christ we have the privilege to know and revere the One before Whom we stand!
As born again believers the Father’s House awaits our arrival. The LORD, The Everlasting God, The Creator of the ends of the earth, has a room for each of us in His magnificent Home. Jesus has been preparing that place for us, where we, as His bride, will be surrounded by His majesty, rejoicing with Him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Until that glorious day we must consider His boundless love for us today, right here, right now. Every hair on our head He knows! (Lk 21:18) Every tear we shed He keeps. (Ps 56:8) Every prayer we pray, no matter how feeble, lingers as sweet perfume before Him (Rev 5:8)
We are called to come freely and boldly to Our Heavenly Father. (Heb 4:16) Jesus called His Father “Abba”…affectionately Papa or Daddy. Let us shout and rejoice! The Most High God is Our Abba ! In Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) We are accepted in the Beloved! (Eph 1:6 Dare we be distant, or empty or anxious about approaching Him? He has even given us the ability to pray to Him through His Spirit (Rom 8:26) .. Oh, let us draw near…. keeping the fires of our first love burning brightly! (Rev 2:4) We are made to do so! Surely the Jewish Apostle Paul knew this well when he penned God’s Word to us in Galatians 4:6…”because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"