Our Father in Heaven
Dr. Benjamin George
Many years ago I was at a Christian camp, and one bright young man, when asked to pray, said, "I don't know how to pray. I am a new believer!" I helped him to pray by saying, "Imagine you are going to your father and asking for something you need!"
You and I need to learn the simplicity of praying to God, "Our Father in Heaven". Then prayer becomes 'simple,' something we can always do and should for our own good!
THE CREATOR GOD
The Bible introduces God in the very first verse of Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". No description of God is given and nothing is mentioned about His 'origin or existence'! God is declared as 'the Creator,' and "on the seventh day, God rested" from creation.
In Genesis 2, we read how God created the heavens and the earth. Here the Creator God is introduced as "the LORD God"(in most versions of the Bible including NKJV as 'Jehovah God'). We read, "He made the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 2:4). In the third generation from Adam, the Bible tells us, "Seth had a son whom he named Enosh." It was then that people began using the LORD's holy name in worship".
Throughout the Old Testament, God is called "the Lord God", "Jehovah God", "the Lord God Almighty" or "the "Lord of hosts." These terms gave people the impression that this God is awesome, unapproachable, judgmental and not to be taken lightly!
However, in the Garden of Eden when God made Adam and Eve, we see Him as one who cherished fellowship by coming down from heaven every evening to walk and talk with them. When they sinned and hid, He came and called out for them. Only because of man's selfishness and disobedience did the holy God separate from them.
The whole experience of the people of Israel with the Lord God is summarised by the writer of Hebrews: "You have not come, as the people of Israel came, to what you can feel, to Mount Sinai with its blazing fire, the darkness and the gloom, the storm, the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of a voice. When the people heard the voice, they begged not to hear another word, because they could not bear the order which said, 'If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.' The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, 'I am trembling and afraid!'" (Hebrews 12:18-21 GNB).
When Moses asked Him who He was, God described Himself as one of "mercy, righteousness and judgment." We read that the LORD God came down in a cloud and stood beside Moses on the mountain. God spoke his holy name, "the LORD." Then he passed before Moses and called out, "I am the LORD God. I am merciful and very patient with my people. I show great love, and I can be trusted. I keep my promises to my people forever, but I also punish anyone who sins. When people sin, I punish them and their children, and also their grandchildren and great-grandchildren."Moses quickly bowed down to the ground and worshiped the LORD. (Exodus 34:5-8).
In the Old Testament, we see few references to the Lord God as "Father" and they are found in the prophecies of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6), Hosea (Hosea 11:1) and Malachi (2:10).
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN
The New Testament reveals the Lord God Almighty as the "Father in heaven". For this reason, God sent Jesus, His only Son as a man. The angel Gabriel told Mary, a virgin, "You will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High" (Luke 1:31-32).
This announcement established and declared to us the 'Father - Son' relationship between the Old Testament Lord God with the New Testament 'Jesus' the 'Son of God'. Those wonderful words of Jesus about God's love for all men reveals to us the 'Father - Son relationship.' "God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die" (John 3:16)..
By many parables, especially that of the 'Prodigal Son,' Jesus tried to reveal and explain to His disciples and the Jews that 'the Lord God' of theirs is truly like the patient and loving father of the prodigal son and they could repent and turn to Him from their sin any time, and He will accept them with joy and celebration.
During Jesus' three and a half years of earthly ministry, we not only see Him claiming and demonstrating "the Father - Son relationship" but hear His clear declaration of this previously unknown truth. The Jews and their leaders could not accept His claim, and they branded it blasphemy against their God. Eventually, they sent him to the cross to die!
The following discourse Jesus had with the people reveal the natural inability of the people to accept the truth that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. “I didn't come from heaven to do what I want. I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day.” The people started grumbling because Jesus had said He was the bread that He had come down from heaven. They were asking each other, 'Isn't he Jesus, the son of Joseph? Don't we know his father and mother? How can he say that he has come down from heaven?' Jesus told them: 'Stop grumbling!'" (John 6:38-43).
All through His life and ministry on earth, Jesus maintained a constant relationship with His father in heaven. He talked to the Father and heard from Him and always did His will and work. All His prayers were addressed to "My Father" except the one on the cross, "My God, why have You forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).
On the Mount, as Jesus started His ministry and introduced kingdom principles, He told His disciples clearly that the Lord God was their Father in heaven who cared. He told them, “Don't worry and ask yourselves, Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?" Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these'" (Mat 6:31-32).
When the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray, the Lord Jesus, the Son of God said to begin daily prayer to "OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN!" For some strange reason, we do not often address God as "Our Father" or pray the Lord's Prayer, while the mainline churches are too familiar with it! Maybe we do not repeat the Lord's Prayer because we think we can pray better!
Let us not forget that this is the prayer to the Father God that the Son taught and all His disciples should pray it and make it the pattern of all their prayers. The Lord's prayer is very short and yet so profound that no other prayer could match its excellence and extent. It encompasses the heaven and the earth and extends from the physical to the spiritual. Often our prayers tend to center on us and our needs, but not as comprehensively as the Lord's prayer. It is a good practice for us believers to begin or end our prayers with the Lord's prayer. Certainly it would please the Father to know that we honour Him!
Jesus told us," When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).
Dear believers, it is good to remember that God to whom we pray is 'the Lord God Almighty' and He can do all things. When we follow the Lord Jesus' example and address God as "OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN," we enter immediately into a 'loving Father-children relationship' which liberates us from all fear of awesomeness and unworthiness!
The Bible says, "There is no fear in love!" It also says, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him" (Psalm 103:13). We are not to make any likeness or idols of God. Those of us with wonderful earthly fathers can more easily imagine God as our 'Heavenly Father' and go to Him without fear and with much favour.
Remember what the risen Lord Jesus told Mary Magdalene: "Go and tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God" (John 20:17).
Praise the Lord God Almighty for He has become our Father in Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord! Let us come boldly to His throne of grace to tell Him "We love you, Father in Heaven and always receive grace to help us in our time of need. Amen!