The Lord's Prayer is the world's most famous prayer, recited more than any other prayer and known by most everyone, even unbelievers.
Today I want to look at just one line of this prayer Jesus taught His disciples—the very first four words, in fact: "Our Father in heaven" (Luke 11:2). From this phrase, let's mull over four attributes of God as Father:
1. His relatability. Father is a term of family relationship. Now, I realize that term is not a happy one for some people because of the baggage they associate with their earthly dads. But in the ancient Jewish culture, which was far more stable and family-oriented than our own, father conveyed a warm, welcoming, intimate sentiment. And when Jesus used the term 2,000 years ago to refer to God, it was revolutionary. He was the first Jewish rabbi to directly call God Father. And we are told to do the same (see John 20:17; Galatians 4:6). When we talk to God, we're not talking to a force or some impersonal ruler; we're talking to our Father.
2. His rule. If God is our Father, we are His children, which means our relationship should be one not just of intimacy but of respect (see Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5:1). So we shouldn't reduce our relationship with God to a sloppy sentimentality, but rather elevate it to an intimate reverence. We as His children should be concerned about doing our Father's will, respecting and revering Him as the sovereign ruler of our lives.
3. His reach. That our in front of Father ought to remind you that God has other children besides you. In fact, there isn't a single personal pronoun in the entire Lord's Prayer, for a good reason: Jesus came to replace the words I, me, my, and mine in our vocabulary with we, us, our, and ours. We are part of a family, the church. This means your personal relationship with God should not be a private relationship. There's no place in God's family for isolationism or radical individualism. Only together are we the body of Christ.
4. His residence. God is our Father in heaven (see Psalm 115:3). Think of heaven as His base of operations, the place from which He exercises all power and authority. This is so important to remember when we come to Him with our issues. Things may be bad on earth, but God is on His throne in heaven, and He rules the universe with His feet up.
Think about your own relationship with God. What's it like? Maybe to you, God is ineffable, transcendent, and majestic. That's good, but I hope that's not all. Sometimes people refer to God as "the good Lord" or "the Big Guy." That's usually a dead giveaway that you don't have any kind of close, intimate relationship with the Father.
If you've wandered from God as your Father and gone your own way, know this: when you come to Him like the prodigal son, confessing, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight" (Luke 15:21), you have a heavenly Father who will, as it were, run to embrace you, drape the best robe around you, and say, "Welcome home." Do you need to come home to Him today?