"THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD"
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…"-Matthew 6:9
What a blessed invitation we have before us today. The Creator of heaven and earth encourages His children to talk to Him and to ask for their needs. This invitation to come before our heavenly Father is well noted in William Bradbury's song, "Sweet Hour of Prayer" with these words:
"And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His word, and trust His grace,
I'll cast on Him my every care
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!"
The language of our Master in this model prayer is given as a blueprint for us to build many houses of prayer upon. Thou we may recite it verbatim, its purpose is to encourage prayer and demonstrate the most important things to pray for. Each child is to fill in the individual categories with their own particular needs and circumstances.
The invitation in itself, displays the lovingkindness of our Holy Father. The smallest child and the weakest faith may approach Him at any moment. We do not need a press conference or a Camp David to visit with Him. His ears are always open to the cries of His elect. He is unlike Allah, who only speaks to his followers though prophets and angels. His small still voice is heard daily. Unlike the Greeks and Romans, who invented a pantheon of gods to fulfill their needs, He is the Father of all mercies and comforts. He is not capricious, as the heathen gods, given to sudden change and emotions, ready to judge and destroy. His love and compassion is unending. He is truly a Father to all who call upon Him.
"Our Father" also displays love because we are encouraged to call Him Father. When we consider this thought we must exclaim with John, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God". What manner of love is this, that He who is everything, invites worms of the dust to call upon Him and ask as they will? What manner of love is this that sinners are invited into the presence of perfect righteousness? If our lives were displayed before the world we might be called many things, yet, by His grace He calls us sons and daughters!
The language also implies adoption! Some will say that we are His children by reason of creation. To this we must disagree. Are the stars and the heavens, the tokens of His handiwork, called His children? Though the Cherubim and the Seraphim are His own peculiar creation, they are never referred to as His children. Surely, we have become His children by the spirit of adoption and the new birth. We have been elected from a fallen and sinful family, the family of Adam and sovereignly placed in His spiritual family. And in adoption, the adopter always makes the choice, not the adopted. Each child has been given a new name that He alone knows. They have been given a new heart and an inheritance among the saints of glory. Thus, we have received the "Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
We must also see brotherhood in our invitation. We are not to say, "My Father", but rather "Our Father". Though doctrines may differ, He is the Father of a great multitude who call upon Him. Father, help us to think upon thee in this way and to remember that our smallest petitions are important to thee!