The only time in all the gospels that Jesus Christ prays to God and doesn’t call Him Father is on the cross, when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forgotten me? Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus lost His relationship with the Father so that we could have a relationship with God as father. Jesus was forgotten so that we could be remembered forever—from everlasting to everlasting. Jesus Christ bore all the eternal punishment that our sins deserve. That is the cost of prayer. Jesus paid the price so God could be our father.
Perhaps, you protest, your own father or mother did you wrong. That must not be a barrier to prayer, for only in Christ will you get the love that you need to make up for your unhappy family history. It does no good to say, “Why weren’t they the parents they should have been?” There are no parents who are what they should be. Psalm 27:10 says: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will bear me up.” This new relationship with God is what you need if you have a bad family background. This is what you need if you feel like a failure, if you feel lonely, or if you are sinking further into despair. Because of the infinite price paid by your brother, Jesus, God your father will hold you up.
Conversation with God leads to an encounter with God. Prayer is not only the way we learn what Jesus has done for us but also is the way we “daily receive God’s benefits.” Prayer turns theology into experience. Through it we sense His presence and receive His joy, His love, His peace and confidence, and thereby we are changed in attitude, behavior, and character.
Excerpt from prayer by Timothy Keller
Reprinted by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2014 by Timothy Keller