In teaching his followers to pray, Jesus instructed us to approach God as “our Father who art in heaven.” This shows us that, as we come to God through Christ, we are to approach God in two ways.
First, we are to approach God with a sense of confidence. We address God not at our Master, our King, our Ruler, or our Employer. He is our Father. In other words, since we have been adopted into God’s family by grace, we are to approach him with the full confidence of a 4 year-old running into her daddy’s arms. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that Jesus taught us to address God as Father “to awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer what should be basic to our prayer— a childlike reverence and trust that through Christ God has become our Father, and that just as our parents do not refuse us the things of this life, even less will God our Father refuse to give us what we ask in faith.”
The fact that Christians can call God “Father” points to a miraculous work of his grace in our lives. Because of our innate sinful nature we are all born children of the devil (John 8:44; Eph. 2:-13). Yet, when God unites us with his Son through faith, we are adopted into God’s family. He becomes our Father. We become his dearly loved children. (See John 1:12; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 John 3:1.)
Secondly, we are to approach God in prayer with a sense of reverence. He is not merely “our Father”; he is our Father “in heaven.” God is the eternal One, the infinite One, and the Supreme Ruler of all. The confidence and intimacy we enjoy with God through Christ does not erase the fact that we are to give him veneration and honor. Happy children are confident in their father’s love for them, but they also know that they are to treat their father with respect. In the same way, the prayers of healthy Christians will sound confident without sounding chummy. They will express intimacy without sliding into impertinence. As the Westminster Larger Catechism says, we are to approach God “with reverence, and … due apprehensions of his sovereign power, [and] majesty”.
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