Our Father

Click here to listen to the audio recording of this 10-minute message. Or watch the YouTube video below, or read the text summary thereafter.

Luke 11:1-4 presents us the brief, well-known passage about Jesus teaching his disciples to pray using an earlier form of the Lord’s Prayer. He says,

When you pray, say,
‘Father…’

I’m stopping at this first word, because it represents a profound revelation and revolution in our understanding of God. In the First Testament of the Hebrew people, God was regarded as all powerful, fearsome, remote, almost terrifying. God was seldom referred to as ‘Father’, except when he was spoken of as being, for example, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the Father of Israel. And God refers to himself as a father in a handful of passages. But people never prayed to or spoke to him directly as ‘Father’.

Jesus, by contrasts, shows himself engaging with God as his personal father, in an intimate, authentic, comfortable, loving way. In his prayers, he calls God ‘Father’. He reveals God in a new light – as approachable, caring, accessible. And he shows that God is interested in our daily lives, in the little things we experience and also in the big challenges we face.

And so, when he teaches his disciples how to pray, his first word is ‘Father’. We could almost stop just there with the Lord’s Prayer because that on its own is a radical transformation of our relationship with God. A one-word prayer – “Father” – is a great prayer!

Not everyone has good associations with ‘father’, however. Some of us have been abused by our fathers, abandoned by them, treated harshly by them. Some don’t know our fathers. Some would never share anything personal with our fathers. So, thinking of God as our ‘father’ might not be meaningful or helpful to everyone; indeed, it might raise a host of painful memories and feelings.

But let us remember that God is not a man and not an actual biological father. Rather, Jesus refers to God as father to reflect a relationship that for him was meaningful. We could think of God as parent (which is often how I refer to God in public prayer) or as mother or caregiver. And let us also consider that there could be healing for our woundedness when we experience a heavenly parent who is consistent, fair, engaged, loving, kind, protective, empowering and sincere, particularly if we have not experienced this with our human parents.

I encourage you today to enter into a more intimate and honest engagement with God in your prayers – both in your formal prayers when you sit down for the purpose of praying or saying a daily office, and in your informal prayers, muttered to God as you drive or worry about something or are grateful for something. God desires to have a parental relationship with us, in which we can rest in his arms and tell him everything that is on our heart, without fear or hesitation.

And so we pray:

Our father in heaven
hallowed be your name
your kingdom come
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen

Featured image from https://valourdigest.com/7-things-a-son-needs-from-his-father/

3 thoughts on “Our Father

  1. Thank you Adrian. Blessings Pat

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  2. John Bewsey says:

    Oh! Adrian – thank you so much for this message.

    I was invited to play golf on Sunday so I have just finished a week that disappeared in a flash and was pummelling – so I’m sitting on my own for the first time this week (Friday evening) watching the sun go down and wondering what happened.

    So, I thought it would be a great time to listen to those mails I have missed – in the first peace of the week.

    I did have a difficult relationship with my father, who I first met when I was six years old – as he was a prisoner of war from 1940 to 1946 – and so the word Father has always jarred a little with me – Grandfather – yes – but Father Ummm! I respected my father but love wasn’t part of the equation and that’s awful of me as he was a good man.

    You have cleared up a 74 year old problem for me and I want to thank you and to just uphold you for all you do for all around you.

    The energy you expend in our direction is never wasted and always constructive.

    Best regards

    John Bewsey

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    • Dear John. Thank you for your sharing of your own father experiences. I’m really pleased that this message helps resolve some of these discords. Thank you for your encouragement of me and this ministry God has called me into – much appreciated! Blessings, and take care. Adrian

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