Last week I heard a sermon on the first couple of verses of Luke 11 – where the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. As our pastor rightly pointed out, Jesus had already been an example of prayer and now he was giving them an example of prayer. As at other times, he told them to start with, “Father.”
I wonder, do we ever really comprehend what that means to us? The maker of billions of stars and galaxies – the one who spoke the material world into existence – the one who secretly knits life together in the womb – the one who orchestrates the intricate symphony of molecules and atoms – tells us to call him Father. I can’t help but wonder sometimes, why does this God care? Why, in all of creation, does he even want anything to do with us?
Heads of State don’t invite us to call them Father. Our professors don’t ask us to use the moniker, “Dad.” Even really good friends of the family may invite us to call them “Aunt” or “Uncle” but they reserve that parental reference to a very special, intimate group of people – their own.
As I listened to the sermon, I wondered if this idea has more of an impact on those of us who have grown up Fatherless. My thoughts went to my mom, sitting down the pew from me who grew up Fatherless – does she know she is loved by this God? My eyes landed on the children in front of me whose father has a life-threatening illness – are they even old enough to grasp what this means to them? Will they remember this if they become fatherless? For myself I wondered if I could ever really know what God means when he says to call him Father.
Later I wondered if anyone really knows what it means for the Almighty God of the Universe to ask them to call him, “Father.”
Have you ever watched a good Daddy woo his child from infancy? No Father expects a child to understand trust, reliance, faithfulness, goodness, power, strength, wisdom and so forth as a baby. Rather, he simply shows those things to his children day by day, situation by situation. Father’s teach their children faithfulness by being faithful in providing all the things they really need. They teach their children goodness by being good to them. They teach strength by doing hard work and standing up under all kinds of pressure. Good Fathers teach their children the things they need to know by showing them to their children day by day.
God has done all these things and more for us. He asks us to be faithful, and he teaches us how by being the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He asks us to be strong and he shows us how by being Almighty. God tells us to do good to those around us, even our enemies, and he shows us how by being goodness itself.
And God wants us to pray, and he teaches us how by being in perfect communion with Himself – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and the invitation starts with him saying, Call me Father.