“The beginning of the Lord’s prayer (Our Father in heaven) teaches us to draw near to God with completely holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father who is able and ready to help us. It also teaches us that we should pray with and for others.” – Shorter Catechism on the Lord’s prayer, Q. 100
Jesus invites me to approach my Father in heaven as his child, mindful of the costly sacrifice he made for me. What an amazing narrative of God’s mercy and grace to begin meditating on and frame my prayers.
At infinite cost to himself, the creator of the universe, my maker, has called me, an undeserving sinner, his own child. God in radiant holiness and glory looks at me and sees Jesus. He credits me with all the relational status and access that Jesus earned, so that I can draw near to my heavenly Father’s throne with confidence. Not only that, my access to God’s throne in heaven is unrestricted.
Confessing my self-centred approach to God in prayer
Although I am repeatedly invited to pray as God’s adopted child, I grieve how often I fail to experience the intimate child-father relationship to which he calls me. In my practice of prayer, I more resemble a spiritually orphaned child. This manifests itself in many scenarios.
At times, in an attitude of autonomy, I find myself asserting my independence from God and resisting prayer altogether.
Even in times when I am aware of my need and sincerely want his help, I doubt his presence, power, or care to work in my life. My prayers are consumed with my own ambitions, and I continue to suffer the resulting anxiety that comes with great expectations of surviving or bettering my life in this chaotic world.
I view God as stingy (reluctant to bless), and think his answers to my prayers are conditional, based on my spiritual performance.
At times I feel confident coming to God in prayer, as though I have earned what I pray for because of all the good I am doing for him. My prayers sound more like a business transaction: “I have done this for you God, can you now do this for me?”
Sometimes I feel totally unworthy to come to him in prayer because I know I have betrayed and sinned against him. My guilt and shame make me hesitant to come before him. In all scenarios, I don’t rest in my heavenly Father’s unconditional love.
Jesus calls me to instead come to my heavenly Father as a loved and forgiven child, having faith and confidence to come to him based on what Jesus has accomplished on my behalf.
Let’s take a moment to confess times we’ve failed to approach God as his child.
In my practice of prayer, I more resemble a spiritually orphaned child…Jesus calls me to instead come to my heavenly Father as a loved and forgiven child.
Jesus turns my heart to my Father
God knows how prone I am to forget who I am. His child. Who God is. My heavenly Father. And how we are related.
In one sense, every human is a child of God. We owe our very existence to him, we resemble him, and have (albeit limited) capacity to do good. Acts 17:29 reads,
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.”
Our child-like relationship to our heavenly Father made possible by our faith in Jesus will grow in depth when we begin our prayers by meditating on our child-father relationship to God, using Bible verses like the ones below.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. – Psalm 103:13
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:6
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. – Ephesians 1:17-21
So when you pray, start by relating to God as your heavenly Father; remember to come as his unconditionally loved child. Your heavenly Father is present, cares for you, and wants you to experience the intimacy of relationship that Jesus has with him.
Take a moment to pray for students, that they would experience this intimate relationship with God, our heavenly Father.
Written by Corey Porter.
Read the introduction to this series: The Lord’s Prayer: Learning to worship God in my prayers.
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