When We Say ‘Father’

When We Say ‘Father’

My earthly father, Adrian Rogers, now in Heaven, was known as “Daddy” to his children and as “Papa” to his grandchildren. Each day of his life—both in public and in private—he consistently modeled to me what a father should be: strong, unwavering, loyal and loving. For that reason, Father’s Day is a special day for me. I have the incredible opportunity to thank God not only for the legacy of my earthly father, but also for having had a real-life example of what a father truly is.

In so many ways, my earthly father modeled God’s love. There are many different ideas about what God is like. The ancient Greeks’ version of God—Zeus—was often petulant and moody and known to zap those who were his objects of wrath or frustration with a well-aimed lightning bolt. Buddhists don’t believe that there is such a thing as a personal god. Hinduism’s god, Brahmin, whom they believe created everything, has no form and is, essentially, “the universe and everything in it.” To Muslims, Allah is omniscient and all-powerful. He is also inscrutable and inaccessible; it is not possible to know him personally.

Contrast all of that with Yahweh, the God of the Bible. He is a God to be reverenced and feared: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). “The Lord is in his holy temple; let the whole earth be silent in his presence” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Yet, to a believer, God is not only the Almighty God of the Angel Armies, He is our Father. The model prayer that Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 6 contains incredible insights into the relationship that God wants us to have with Him. The key that unlocks all of these insights is found in the first two words: Our Father. God not only wants us to think of Him as Father, He wants us to address Him as Father. And when we do, some wonderful things happen:

When we say “Father,” we express God’s nature. A father is not something God is like; Father is what God is. Human fatherhood is patterned after divine Fatherhood, and our earthly fathers give us insight into God’s nature. However, unlike earthly fathers, who come with frailties and shortcomings, our Heavenly Father is all-wise, all-loving and all-caring. Aren’t you glad that your Father in Heaven will never be considered an “absentee father”—that He will always be there whenever you need Him?

And since God is our Father, the converse is also true: We are His children, adopted into His family. This passage from Galatians beautifully explains our new relationship with Him: “When the time came to completion, God sent his Son … to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir” (Galatians 4:4–7). 

When we say “Father,” we experience God’s nurture. At dinnertime, the children of the family don’t worry about whether there will be food on the table. They know that their father works hard every day to be able to buy enough groceries to feed the family. In the same way, we don’t have to worry about whether God will take care of our basic needs; He has promised to do so. In Matthew 6, the same chapter where Jesus gave us the model prayer that begins “Our Father,” He gives us this admonition: 

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them (Matthew 6:25, 32).

Take comfort in the fact that God calls Himself Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord our Provider. He’s your Father; He will take care of you.

When we say “Father,” we exalt God’s Name. In the Lord’s Prayer, immediately after we are invited to address God as Father, we are exhorted to pray “Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9, KJV). Even though we enjoy an intimate relationship that can only occur between a child and a father, we should never use God’s Name lightly or in a trite or flippant manner. Instead, the Scriptures encourage us to honor and reverence it, placing it high above all other names. 

Each of the Names God uses to describe Himself reveals something about His character. In the Old Testament, God is referred to as El Shaddai—the Mighty God, and El Elyon—the Most High God. However, in the New Testament, we find a new Name for God: Abba. This word that expresses the intimate relationship between a father and a child is the same word we can use to address our Heavenly Father: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:15).

As children of the King, we not only exalt His Name with our lips, we exalt His Name with the very lives we live. As members of God’s family, His Name now becomes part of our own: “child of God.” I love how my earthly father expressed this wonderful relationship: “We have the family likeness to wear, the family loyalty to share and the family name to bear.”

I encourage you, take your concerns and your needs to your Heavenly Father in prayer. There is no request that is too big or too small for Him. El Shaddai—the Mighty God—is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). But don’t forget to call Him Father. When we say “Father,” we express His nature, we experience His nurture and we exalt His Name.

Your Father is waiting to hear from you. He’s just a prayer away. You know what to say. ©2021 Steve Rogers

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible® ©2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. 

The quotation marked KJV is taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version. 

 

Steve Rogers is co-creator of Band Together (bandtogether.rocks), a music education company for families. A well-known speaker, songwriter and author, he has co-written four books with his father, Adrian Rogers. He and his wife, Cindi, have a daughter, son-in-law and a grandson.

Above: The Reverend Adrian Rogers speaks at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, in June 2005.

Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

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