When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them a prayer to pattern after. Significantly, He taught them to address God as “Our Father in heaven” instead of more commonly used terms like “Sovereign Lord” or “God Almighty.” This means when we pray, we go to God as His children. Since He is our Father, there’s no need to worry whether we’re worthy enough to go to Him and speak to Him, or whether He’s interested to listen to us and cares about our concerns.
Consider two implications of this truth.
1. As our Father, God is willing to supply our needs when we pray.
Jesus taught, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). This does not mean we don’t need to pray but encourages us to pray in faith (Matthew 6:11-13). In fact Jesus later repeated this assurance that our Father knows our needs (Matthew 6:32) to emphasise that God will certainly provide, so we don’t need to worry (Matthew 6:33-34).
Jesus further underscored God’s readiness and willingness to provide for us in Matthew 7. He noted that if earthly fathers, being evil, will give good gifts to their children when they asked them for these, then “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11, NIV). God, who is a far more loving, compassionate, and generous Father than we, is certainly more ready and willing to supply our needs when we pray!
When I was in Primary 3, I did much better in the year-end exams than the mid-year exams. My father decided to reward me for my improvement. When he asked what I wanted I said, “A toy train set.” I was excited when I followed him to an amusement park to look for a toy train set that night. To my disappointment, we didn’t find a single toy train set. Crestfallen, I went home and fell asleep on my rattan mat.
Can you imagine my joy when I woke up the next morning and found a brand new toy train set beside my pillow! Dad apparently went out again to look for a toy train set after I slept! Now if my earthly dad, though he’s a sinner, would go through all that trouble to get me a toy that I asked for, then surely our heavenly Father will give us the good gifts we need if we pray for them! Let me qualify that as a good and loving Father, there are times that He’ll want us to wait or even deny our requests. But even then, He has our best interests in mind (Romans 8:32).
2. As our Father, God is delighted when we pray.
If God knows our needs even before we pray, then why does He want us to pray? Why not give us what we need without praying for it? One reason is that then we’ll acknowledge His sovereignty and our dependence on Him. Another reason is He enjoys fellowshipping with us and delights in our prayers (Proverbs 15:8).
God enjoys our fellowship, much as fathers enjoy the company of their children. This truth was vividly impressed on me when my late father was hospitalised in 2011. My visits made him very happy and it showed on his face. During a visit, he asked for my hand. When I held his hand, he pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it! It’s his way of telling me that he loved me and enjoyed my visit! That evening I caught a glimpse of our Father’s love for us and His delight in us. Of course God is not a sick old man waiting for us to visit, but He treasures our fellowship just like my father enjoyed my visits. He delights to hear us tell Him what’s in our heart: our joys, sadness and pain, our problems, burdens and concerns, our hopes, dreams and aspirations, and whatever matters to us.
When we pray, God will listen to us and speak to us, He will guide us, help us and provide for us. Why? Because He’s our Father who loves us and delights in us. So as we prepare to honour our dads on Father’s Day this weekend, seek to delight our Father in heaven too, by spending time in prayer. When we pray, honour Him with attitudes of humble confidence, loving devotion, gratitude and faith.
Monday: Deuteronomy 14:1a, 2 (NKJV)
“You are the children of the Lord your God… 2 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Tuesday: Jeremiah 31:20 (NASB1995)
“Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares the Lord.
Wednesday: Galatians 4:6-7 (NASB1995)
6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Thursday : 1 John 3:1a (NASB1995)
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.
Friday: Proverbs 15:8 (NASB1995)
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
Saturday: Matthew 7:11 (NASB1995)
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Sunday: Psalm 103:13 (NASB1995)
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
By Pastor Yong Tai Tong