Jesus responded to his disciples request to teach them to pray by giving them a pattern for prayer (Luke 11:2-4). You may have noticed that the words Jesus gave his disciples in the Gospel of Luke differ from those in the more familiar version found in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus likely gave his disciples this prayer many times. The words themselves are not as important as the pattern. This reminds us that God does not need our repetitive words. He wants to hear us speaking to him from the heart.
Jesus addressed God simply by calling him “Father.” It is easy to miss the simplicity with which Jesus addresses God. The pagan religions of Jesus’ time believed that you needed to use the right words to address the gods or your prayer would not be heard. If you did not use enough flattering words to cajole them or, worse yet, you offended them by not showing proper respect, they may not listen to you. The Maker of Heaven and Earth does not require such flattery. Simply call him “Father”, and you can be sure he hears.
Furthermore, the title Father communicates intimacy, care, and love. Our earthly parents serve as reflections of our heavenly parent, at least when they parent us well. All the desires of acceptance, love, and tender care we seek from our parents are met in God the Father.
Of course, no earthly father, or mother for that matter, is perfect. All parents miss the mark from time to time and by degrees or even long shots. There was a popular worship song in the 1990’s that went: “I have a Father, he calls he his own. He’ll never leave me, no matter where I go. He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and he hears me when I call.” I have sung those words many times on Men’s Retreats with some of the burliest men I have known. Tears were often seen running down their cheeks, because many of them had earthly fathers not worth their salt. By addressing God as “Father”, we acknowledge that we have a God who is able to stand in the gap and heal childhood wounds left by earthly parents. Even those with relatively good parents find solace in calling God their Father.
Those who call on Lord Jesus for salvation have been adopted into God’s family. We have the privilege of calling the Maker of Heaven and Earth “Father.” How blessed we are!