When We Say Father
Wonderful things happen when we address God as our Father.
by STEVE ROGERS
THERE ARE MANY different ideas about what God is like. The ancient Greeks’ version of God — Zeus — was often petulant and moody and known to zap those who were his objects of wrath or frustration with a well-aimed lightning bolt. Buddhists don’t believe that there is such a thing as a personal god. Hinduism’s god, Brahma — whom they worship as creator of everything — has no form and is, essentially, “the universe and everything in it.” To Muslims, Allah is omniscient and all powerful. He is also inscrutable and inaccessible; it is not possible to know him personally.
Contrast all of that with Jehovah, the God of the Bible. On one hand, He is a God to be reverenced and feared: “The LORD is in his holy temple; let the whole earth be silent in his presence” (Hab. 2:20).
Yet, to a believer, God is not only the Almighty God-of-the-angel-armies, He is our Father. In contrast to other world religions, our God is Someone with whom we can have an intimate, personal relationship.
The model prayer Jesus gave His disciples contains incredible insights into that relationship God wants us to have with Him. The key that unlocks all of these insights is found in the first two words: “Our Father.” God not only wants us to think of Him as Father, He wants us to address Him as Father.
Although God sees each sparrow that falls, our relationship with Him is on a much more intimate basis because since God is our Father, that makes us His children. As such, we are objects of His sustaining love and tender mercies.
Even though God’s children number in the billions, He knows and calls each of us by name. Stop and think how incredible that is: The Lord and Creator of the universe knows who we are — what makes us tick, what we like to eat, and what our struggles are.
An 8-year-old girl, attempting to quote the Lord’s Prayer, said it like this: “Our Father, who art in heaven, how does He know my name?” As God’s children, we have the privilege to address Him as Father. And when we do, some wonderful things happen:
When we say, “Father,” we express God’s nature. A father is not someone God is like. Father is who God is. Human fatherhood is patterned after divine Fatherhood, and our earthly fathers give us insight into God’s nature. However, unlike earthly fathers who come with frailties and shortcomings, our heavenly Father is all wise, all loving, and all caring. Aren’t you glad your Father in heaven will never be considered an “absentee father” — that He will always be there whenever you need Him?
And since God is our Father, the converse is also true: We are His children, adopted into His family. This passage from Galatians beautifully explains our new relationship with Him: “When the time came to completion, God sent his Son … so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir” (Gal. 4:4–7).
When we say, “Father,” we experience God’s nurture. At dinnertime, the children of a loving father don’t worry about whether there will be food on the table. They know their father works hard every day to be able to buy enough groceries to feed the family. In the same way, we don’t have to worry about whether God will take care of our basic needs; He has promised to do so. In Matthew 6, the same chapter where Jesus gave us the model prayer that begins “Our Father,” He shares this admonition: “Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (v. 25). Jesus gives the assurance that “your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (v. 32).
Take comfort in the fact that God calls Himself Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our Provider. He’s your Father; He will take care of you.
When we say, “Father,” we exalt God’s name. In the Lord’s Prayer, immediately after we are invited to address God as Father, we are exhorted to pray “Hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9, KJV). Even though we enjoy an intimate relationship that can only occur between a child and a father, we should never use God’s name lightly or in a trite or flippant manner. Instead, the Scriptures encourage us to honor and reverence it, placing it high above all other names: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” (Ps. 29:2).
Each of the names God uses to describe Himself reveals something about His character. In the Old Testament, God is referred to as El Shaddai, the Mighty God, and El Elyon, the Most High God. However, in the New Testament, we find a new name for God: Abba. This is the word Jesus used on the cross when He cried out in agony and pain to His Father: “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Abba — a word that expresses the intimate relationship between a father and a child — is the same word we can use to address our heavenly Father: “You received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Rom. 8:15).
As children of the King, we not only exalt His name with our lips, we exalt His name with the very lives we live. As members of God’s family, His name now becomes part of our own: “child of God.” I love how my earthly father, Adrian Rogers, expressed this wonderful relationship: “We have the family likeness to wear, the family loyalty to share, and the family name to bear.”
So take your concerns and your needs to God in prayer. There is no request too big or too small for Him. El Shaddai — the Mighty God — is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). But don’t forget to call Him Father. When we say, “Father,” we express His nature, we experience His nurture, and we exalt His name.
Your Father is waiting (and wanting) to hear from you. He’s just a prayer away. You know what to say.
STEVE ROGERS is the president and co-founder of the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute, headquartered in North Palm Beach, Florida. Steve is a well-known author, songwriter, and speaker. Steve and Cindi have one daughter, Adrienne Renae, who is married to Brian, and a grandson, Townes.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (March 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.