Have you ever played a word association game? For instance, if I said “winter” you might say “shoveling” (or kids might say “sledding”). If I said “summer” you might say “vacation.” But I think the word “father” may bring up a lot of very different feelings or images. Some may have fond memories of the word “father” while others may think:
- playful but not a good provider
- hard to please
Even if our human fathers were good, they were still flawed. Jesus said this about us, “If you parents, that even know how to give good things to your kids are evil, how much more amazing is the goodness and love of God” (Matthew 7:11). But Jesus had something entirely different in mind for us when He told us we could come to God as our Father. And, sadly, it’s a level of intimacy that many have never known.
All of us could only experience limited intimacy with our earthly fathers, but with our Heavenly Father we can have unlimited and unimaginable intimacy!
When Jesus was teaching us to pray in Matthew 6:6-9, there are two thoughts that stand out to me about coming to God as our Father. First, Jesus tells us that we don’t have to use any special language. When He said some people babble in prayer, Jesus was saying they were using a language that was unnatural to them—they weren’t being themselves.
Our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him as children: full of innocence, and wonder, and expectation, and imagination!
Second, I notice that three times Jesus calls God “your Father,” but when He begins His model prayer He says, “Our Father.” Think of that: Jesus is saying we can approach God the same way He approached His Father!
In His intense prayer time just before His crucifixion, Jesus used the phrase “Abba Father” to express His intimacy. This phrase is used two other times in the New Testament. Both of these times it’s telling us that we can approach our Heavenly Father the same way Jesus did (see Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15).
The Romans understood the weight that was associated with the practice of adoption. They knew that a father chose that child to be a part of his family, giving that child full acceptance into the family. Marvin Vincent noted,
“We have but a faint conception of the force with which such an illustration would speak to one familiar with the Roman practice; how it would serve to impress upon him the assurance that the adopted son of God becomes, in a peculiar and intimate sense, one with the heavenly Father.”
In writing to the Romans, Paul reminds them that for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation—nothing holding them back from God’s presence. He also said that God has fully adopted us into His family, and that the Holy Spirit was now in us, encouraging us to call God “Abba Father” just as Jesus did (Romans 8:1, 14-16).
Check out these two final thoughts from Jesus: He encourages us to approach God as innocent children, and He praises Our Father for then intimately confiding in His children—
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. … I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matthew 18:3, 11:25)
No matter what your relationship was with your earthly father, Jesus encourages us to approach our Heavenly Father in innocence, wonder, expectation, imagination, and intimacy. This is what God desires in His relationship with you!
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Intimate Conversation, you can find them all by clicking here.
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