Day 8 Thirty Days of Prayer
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He began by addressing God as "Our Father". Prayer is first and foremost a relationship with our Father in Heaven. He loves us, and He wants us to love him back. God wants us to know Him and to be in relationship with Him. In John 17, Jesus tells us, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." God speaks to us through his Word and through His working in our lives. We speak (and listen) to Him in prayer and by living our lives in Christ's service.
As our loving Father, God wants us to approach Him with a loving, trusting, and joyful heart. He also tells us that we can approach His throne of grace and mercy with confidence. Yet, if your relationship with your earthly father was less than ideal, it may be hard for you to grab hold of a wholesome view of God as the Heavenly Father. In prayer and through studying God's word, however, you can begin to build a picture of God that is based in truth. Another way to grow in understanding God as Father is to accept the love of other Christians, who model, though imperfectly, God's love to us.
It's good to pray through verses that help us understand God's attribute of Fatherhood. Some examples of these passages are as follows:
Luke 15:1-end, Psalm 68:5; Matthew 6:9; Matthew 7:11; Romans 8:15; I Peter 1:17, Genesis 1:1-end; John 1:12; Romans 8:14; Php. 2:15; I John 3:1; Ephesians 5:8; I Thessalonians 5:5; Romans 8:17;Gal. 3:29; Matthew 12:49-50; Ephesians Chapter One;
2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 4:4-7; the book of Hosea; Isaiah 40:11; Philippians 4:4-8; I Peter 5:7; Isaiah 46:4; Matthew 11:28-29; Revelation 21:3-4; Psalm 147:3; Proverbs 8:27-31;
We can know God as Our loving Father because of what Jesus has shown us and what He has done for us. "All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Matthew 11:27.
We must grasp both our Father's tender love for us and His awesome holiness. We pray to a God who welcomes us into a relationship with Him and who graciously forgives and saves us from our sins. Yet, He is also a God whom we should fear properly. Humility before our Heavenly Father is a foundation of true prayer.
Some verses that help us keep this balance in perspective are as follows:
I Timothy 6:15-15; Isaiah 55:8; Ezekiel 1:27-28; Isaiah 6:1-8; Ephesians 3:20-21; Isaiah 40:12; I Peter 1:3-16; Hebrews 12:28-29; Deuteronomy 10:12; Ecclesiastes 5:1; John 2:16;
Matthew 10:28; I Peter 1:17; I Peter 2:17 Ps. 25:12; Psalm 31:19; Luke 1:50; Acts 10:35;
It is easy for us to go off in one extreme or the other with regard to our view of God. Some of us may understand God's holiness and justice adequately, but we may miss the depths of His tender mercy and grace. Some of us may attempt to hide our hearts behind formulaic worship; others may be too casual or perhaps even lackadaisical in a relationship with God. Some may think often of the Lord's grace, yet may not fully acknowledge His power, His holiness, and His justice. Camping out on either extreme will damage our view of the Lord.
Remembering that the Lord is our Father can help us keep a healthy balance in our prayer life. Even a human father, if he is wise, will be approachable, loving, and full of grace. Yet, he will also inspire respect and obedience. How much more does our perfect Heavenly Father deserve our childlike confidence in His love and mercy, as well as healthy fear and the utmost reverence!
God is Father to each Christian. Yet, as Jesus prayed, He is also "Our" Father. If we have truly become Christians, we have been reborn into the Lord's family. We relate to other Christians as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Understanding this gives richness to times when we pray with or for other Christians.
All of us can mature in our understanding of God. Doing so is worth the effort. Knowing and loving God is the most precious thing we can do. It also is the basis for relating to Him through prayer.