How to Pray


Adoration: Our Father in Heaven

Over the next two days we will reflect on reverence and worship in prayer. Worshipping or hallowing the Father’s name is perhaps the most important and enjoyable dimension of prayer. Today we think about the revolutionary intimacy of addressing God as "Our Father."

Every other line of the Lord’s Prayer is both pre-empted and primed by its eight opening words of adoration: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

When Jesus told his disciples to address God in this way they would have been surprised, to say the least. They knew that their Scriptures occasionally compared Yahweh to a father, but would never before have dared to address him directly, in such familiar and familial terms. Jesus was inviting his disciples to step into a level of intimacy with God that they had never before imagined possible.

After more than twenty-five years in pastoral ministry, twenty of them teaching on prayer, I have come to the conclusion that most people’s biggest problem with prayer is God. They envisage him scowling, perpetually disapproving, invariably disappointed and needing to be placated or persuaded in prayer. If that’s how you picture God, I really don’t blame you for trying to avoid his gaze! But Jesus says something completely different. He makes it clear, in his parable of the Prodigal, that the God to whom we pray is extravagantly kind; a father who comes running towards us with arms flung wide, whenever we approach him, wherever we’ve been and whatever we’ve done. He assures us that Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, the Creator of the cosmos, the sustainer of the universe is (drumroll please) on our side.

The deeper we receive our identity as "dearly loved children", the greater our desire to spend time with our Father in prayer. We will start to tell him everything and dare to ask him anything because we now know that, as Jesus puts it elsewhere, "Your Father in heaven [loves to] give good gifts to those who ask him."  Isn’t that amazing? God wants to bless you. He is lovingly attentive to your needs, always pleased to see you, predisposed to answer the cries of your heart.

As we pause to pray, close your eyes and picture your Father in Heaven. What does his expression look like?

Let’s pray together: Our Father in Heaven, thank you that I am your dearly loved child. Help me to rejoice in you as Father today.