by Mike Benson
I will speak for me. I probably need to spend more time thinking about what I’m actually saying in my private prayers.
“Father in heaven…”
If I am not very careful, the phrase may constitute little more than a thoughtless, repetitive habit.
Strangely enough, I don’t talk to my earthly father that way, but I tend to do so with my heavenly Father. Does he ever get weary of my redundancy?
What am I really saying when I articulate the words, “Father in heaven…”?
First, “Father” means I am a member of God’s family.
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
Just as a suit which I put on envelops me and identifies my appearance, my immersion in water (Romans 6:3-4; cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21) was the culminating act of faith by which God added me to his spiritual household (1 Timothy 3:15) and identified me as his kin.
Second, “Father” means I am a recipient of God’s special provision.
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:9-11)?
If I, as an earthly father, endeavor to meet the dietary needs and requests of my child, how much more (cf. Ephesians 3:20) will my heavenly Father accommodate the requirements (cf. Philippians 4:19; James 1:17) of my life (cf. Psalm 37:25)?
Third, “Father” means I am the beneficiary of God’s loving discipline.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6; cf. Proverbs 3:11-12).
Because God is my Father in heaven, he, on occasion disciplines me for my long term good (cf. Hebrews 12:9-11). He wields the rod (Psalm 89:32; Proverbs 22:15) of pain and corrects me as an expression of his special relationship (Hebrews 12:8) with me.
“Father in heaven…”
The phrase ought to be more than some rote recital of words. It should be an indelible imprint on my heart–that I have a Father who…
- takes me in as his own
- gives me all that I need
- chastens me to help me mature.