Updated: Jul 1, 2020
God really likes metaphors. Metaphors allow us to think about an infinite God with our finite capacity. They are a gift from a gracious God who wants to be known.
God as our “Father” is a beautiful picture of inclusion, commitment, protection, provision, and relationship. This is Jesus’ favorite way to talk about God.
For some, this beautiful metaphor is sullied by a poor experience with an earthly Father. While there are ample other metaphors to help us understand our relationship with God, I’m convinced that even those wounded by earthly Fathers will find healing in re-imagining this metaphor. God is not the Father any of us had. He’s better. He’s the Father all of us truly wanted and needed: tender when we hurt, lovingly firm when we needed correction, fierce when we were threatened, faithful in spite of our inconsistencies.
We are not praying to an impersonal force. We are praying to a Father who brought us (who did not deserve it) into his family. He chose us. He cares for our needs. He cares about our concerns. He protects us. He leads us to maturity.
And then this prayer takes a surprising turn. “Our Father” is all about connection and relationship. “In Heaven” is another thing entirely. Heaven is a mystery. We have hopes and dreams for what heaven may hold, but none of us really know what heaven will be like. God is our Father (and the best possible version of that), but he’s also a mystery. He’s more than our metaphors can express. He’s more than our minds can fathom. And its a really good thing that he is. He’s more than our problems can thwart and more than our failures can ruin.
We have the best of both worlds: a God who loves us like a Father and a God who is limitless in his ability to act on our behalf. We can pray with a sense of expectation that God is more than capable to answer, and that he is genuinely invested in our well-being. It leads me to a humble appreciate that a God of such magnitude would care about my simple concern.
Humility is a pretty good starting place in prayer. The scripture teaches that God opposes the proud, but give grace to the humble.
Next up: May your name be kept holy...