Our model for praying effective prayers begins with to Whom we are talking.
He is “our Father.”
This very first phrase of the Lord’s Prayer tells us something really important about effective prayers…
The term “Father” doesn’t mean much in our culture today. Fathers are often stereotyped as dimwitted, immature, wimps — who have very little positive to bring to the family (can you think of a modern sitcom where the father is portrayed as wise and strong??) In our culture, fathers are seen more often as the brunt of jokes… than as the leaders in our homes.
And if you grew up in a situation where your father wasn’t an especially good one… you might not feel a positive emotional connection with the whole concept of Father. The mention of God being your “Father” may bring more of a sense of apprehension and fear, than of closeness and love.
But in Bible times, it was not that way… “Father” was absolutely central to family life.
That’s because fathers not only provided for their families but also carried out many other important responsibilities. The father set the tone and the objectives for the whole family. The father was instrumental in instructing the children (Proverbs is an example of this fatherly instruction). The father disciplined the children whenever they strayed from the father’s instructions and objectives (see Dt. 8:5). The father had compassion on his children – treating them, not as they deserved but as the objects of his love and affection (see Ps. 103:13). Fathers sought to help the helpless – to be known as a father of the fatherless (see Ps. 68:5). And fathers were seen as a source of mature guidance and wise counsel (see Jer. 31:9).
In short, “our Father” draws upon all the best that earthly fathers are called to be – and multiplies those virtues to the highest degree.
When Jesus came and walked among us, His favorite characterization of God was as His “Father.” Jesus’ relationship was one of Father and Son – a relationship He sought to impart to all who would believe in Him.
How does this translate to our own lives? When we approach God, we do not come to him as beggars, begging for His help. We do not come to him as orphans, pleading for a home. We do not come as problems seeking His power only as a solution to our many “issues.”
We come to Him as to “our Father.” Welcomed. Wanted. Celebrated. Cherished. Treasured. As His very Own children – by His very Own choice.
We come to Him because, as our Father, He is our Source of supply – whether that need is physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, or psychological. HE is the One Who willingly bears the responsibility for meeting all the needs of all His children. Not because He has to… but because He wants to – He desires to be the One that brings His abundance to our lives.
How does this affect our prayers? In every way. We come to understand that God is eager to show us how good a Father He is. He longs to bring the fullness of His love and His resources to our lives.
He just invites us to ask Him. He welcomes us to come to Him and bring our needs (no matter how big or small) so that we can personally know the wonder and joy of His Fatherly care in our lives.