For the Christian in prayer, the most powerful word is his first word – Father.
Far too often, if not always, we hurry past the fact that we are addressing God as Father to get on to the things on our mind and heart. But when was the last time that you were staggered by the reality that, if you are in Christ, you have been adopted by God and given the rights and privileges that come with being in the family of God?
Lest we forget, our sinful disposition did not put us in a favorable position for God to want us. In fact, our blatant rebellion is the outward manifestation of idolatrous hearts that prefer lesser lovers. We have offended God not only in what we have not done (giving Him glory) but also by what we have done (seeking satisfaction in other things besides Him). If there would be any who are children of God, it would be by sheer mercy and grace. What kind of Father would want to make His enemies to be sons and daughters? Moreover, what Father would give His own son for those enemies so that their offense would be judged and their acceptance paid in full in the divine exchange at the cross?
When we pray to God, we call Him Father because for the Christian, that is His name. And in that name is the purposeful reminder to all who know Him that the access we have to Him and the adoption we have received from Him has come at the sacrifice of His own Son. Therefore, if the glory of the gospel does not enliven our affections when we pray to our “Father,” then perhaps we do not know Him as we ought. And when we pray in the power of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20), we praying by the means of the Spirit of adoption who leads us to cry out “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15).
So the next time you pray, I encourage you to pause before you call out to God. He is not a God. He is your God. More than that, He is your Father. He is your Father who knows our need before you ever ask Him (Matt. 6:32). He is your Father who will “give good things to those who ask Him” (Matt. 7:11). He is your Father who does not let a sparrow fall to the ground apart from His permission (Matt. 10:29). He is your Father whose ear is always open and tuned into the cry of His children (1 Pet. 3:12). He is your Father who delivered up His Son and with Him freely gives you all things (Rom. 8:32).
See what manner of the love the Father has give to us that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1). This should slow us down in prayer. Actually the glory of adopting love should cause us to stop and wonder. And to know that we are calling to the God of heaven and earth in the most intimate of terms who is more willing to answer than we are to ask, more generous to give than we are plead, and more open to hear than we are open to speak ought to flood our hearts with joyful anticipation as we pray, and this because God is for us in prayer, with us in prayer, and in us in prayer.
When your mind is sensitive to and your heart satisfied by the gospel, you will know that there is no more important word and powerful reality in practice of prayer than the word Father. Don’t get over it. And if you are indwelt by the Spirit, He won’t let you. Let the privilege of adoption deepen your passionate adoration. You were an enemy; He has made you a son. What greater motivation should you have to pray than the work of the gospel that has made Him who was once your judge now your Father?