How should we address God in prayer?

When you pray, say, “Father.”  –Luke 11:2

We hear people praying, “O God, do this…and God, do that…please God….”

We do not criticize one another’s prayers.  Any prayer is better than none.  And yet, I wonder about addressing the Heavenly Father as “God.”

It certainly makes sense. God is who He is.  There is one God and no other.  When we say “God,” we are referring to no other Being in the universe because deity is a category occupied by Him alone.  He is the only one in that class.  So, it’s not wrong to address God as God, I suppose.

But it feels a little like addressing my earthly father as “Coal miner.” Or “Farmer.”  Because that’s what he was.  Only he was so much more than that.

Our Lord Jesus had something to say on this matter.  When you pray, say ‘Father.’

Say “Father.”

That certainly reads like a command, and not a suggestion.

One wonders why we take that so lightly.

In the typical adult Sunday School classroom you’ll hear God addressed in all kinds of ways.  “God.”  “O God.”  “Dear God.”  “Lord.”  “Dear Lord.”

I’m recalling that my wonderful mother made her prayers to “Dear Jesus.”  And no, I would not have corrected her in a hundred years!  Nor am I saying that God rejected her prayer–or anyone else’s!–because of the wrong wording.

I’m merely saying that Jesus said we should pray to “Father.”

We have it in writing that the Lord Jesus addressed His prayers to the Father…

–In the Lord’s Prayer, He called God “Father” and “Our Father.”  (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2)

–At Lazarus’ grave, He called God “Father”.  (John 11:41)

–In Jesus’ high priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus called God “Father” (verses 1,5,21,24), “Holy Father” (v. 11), and “righteous Father” (v. 25).

–In Matthew 11, Jesus called God “Father, Lord of Heaven and earth” (v.25) and “Father” (v. 26).

–He also called God “Father” in Matthew 26:39,42 and John 12:27,28.

Convincing, isn’t it?  In fact, I cannot find where He called God anything else.  In His cry from the cross–“My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”–Jesus was actually quoting Psalm 22:1. But the other times He used “Father.”  “Father, into thy hands….”  “Father, forgive them….”

So, how shall we address God in prayer?  I suggest saying “Father.”  

I wonder if we have considered how blessed we are to know the Creator of the universe as our Father?

Dr. Gresham, the chaplain of Berry College a half-century ago, used to say, From time to time, someone will say to me, “I don’t believe in Jesus, but I do believe in God the Father.”  I always ask them, “Who taught you to call God Father?”  Because it was Jesus.  There is no record of anyone looking toward Heaven and calling God ‘Father’ until Jesus.

True, the Old Testament has a few references to God being the Father of Israel.  But again, no one dared address God as “Father.”  It just wasn’t done. It would have been considered a transgression of the worst sort, almost blasphemous.

I’ve heard that the Quran (Koran) has over 90 names for God, but not one of them is “Father.”

The Lord Jesus thought God being our Father was something special.  He said–

Suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?

Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:11-13)

Without saying it in so many words, the Lord was answering the devil who said then (and now!) that one does not dare open himself up to God because if we trust Him, He will pull a fast one and give us something we did not want.

In Matthew 7:11, the variation of this Luke 11 scripture says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

The point is clear. Jesus is saying, “You may trust the Father.  At the very least, give Him credit for being as loving a Father as you are! ”

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Eve, “God knows that in the day you eat from this tree, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.  And He’s holding out on you.  He doesn’t want what’s best for you.”  (Genesis 3)

The Lord Jesus said satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8).  And He knew.

Thanks to the Lord Jesus, God is our Father.  We may address Him as Father (what a privilege!) and trust Him to be a loving Father.

We are so blessed.



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