“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’ Matthew 6: 9 – 13
Although there are times when God was referred to as Father (Ab) in the Old Testament, it was normally in reference to his work as the Creator, Saviour, or Redeemer. Isaiah does prophecy the coming son, which was to be given, as the Everlasting Father. Jeremiah comes the closest in using Father in an intimate way where God grieves over Israel as his children and would have wanted Israel to call him Father. Although they did that they still turned away from him as prodigal children.
It is Jesus who refers to God as Father in a more relational way, teaching us to have a personal Father child relationship with him. He is our heavenly Father whose name is holy. A Father who is personal, yet demands respect at the same time. He is a King whose heavenly kingdom pervades the earthly realm as yeast mixes with dough. It can’t always be seen, but he is always present. As a Father who desires his children to carry out his wishes and will, so he desires to see his will fulfilled in our lives – his good, pure, and perfect will. By this will we shall inherit all the blessings that he has for us. However, those blessings are found in him, in relationship with him, and not apart from him. We could take all that he has to give us and go our own way, then end up feeding on the pods of the pigs. That’s not what he wants of us. He desires us to have the fattened calf, the robe of blessing around our necks, and the ring of authority on our finger. That’s the right to be called a child of God by believing in him.
To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1: 12 – 13
We have all sinned and fallen short of his glory as prodigal children. However, he forgives us in the same way that we forgive those who have sinned against us. The Father is merciful, yet just. He treats us mercifully and expects us to treat others mercifully. Can we truly say that we’re children of the Father because others see the character of the Father in us? Can they see us forgiving others as he has forgiven us? Can they see us loving others as he has loved us? Can they see us loving our enemies in the same way when he cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them!”
Our Father is our protector and deliverer into whose arms we can run in the presence of danger. He delivers us from all evil and keeps us safe.
Do you know him as Abba, Father?
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4: 4 – 7