“Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father…” One of the all-time great hymns in Church history. That line particularly sounds out the significant status we now have as believers: children to our heavenly Father. Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17). How should we think about our relationship with our Triune God? How should believers pray? Sometimes people pray to Jesus directly. Sometimes people use the generic term “God”. Sometimes people pray to the Holy Spirit. Is there a right or wrong way? I don’t know if these are necessarily “wrong”, but, it seems there is a particular “appropriateness” for us to relate with God the Father. Let me explain why this is important for Christians to do.
First, the purpose of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection was to give us access to God the Father (John 14:6; Eph. 2:18; 3:12; 1 John 1:3). We come to Jesus Christ for salvation, but, we go through Him to get to the Father. Think back on the Gospels and their record of Jesus’ words. It’s the Father who sent Jesus, who commanded Him what to say and do, empowered Him to do miracles. His mission was all about revealing the identity of the Father (John 1:18). While Jesus certainly hears us when we pray (John 14:13-14; Heb. 4:14-16), the NT far more often teaches us to go to the Father. What the Bible emphasizes it repeats and whatever it repeats we should emphasize. Yes, let us go to our Lord and Savior Jesus but let us not stop with Him. His earthly ministry’s success flung open the door for us to come into a holy relationship specifically with His God and Father. Who is now our God and Father. Think of how powerful this is to shape a believer’s perspective. Each of us now have the privilege and permission to come before God the Father because of our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Secondly, praying to God the Father reinforces to our minds the fact that we are now His children (John 1:12-13; Romans 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26; 4:6-7; Eph. 1:3-5; 3:14-15). In recognizing our heavenly Father more we recognize this filial relationship. We used to be children of the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8), but, now Jesus Christ has made us children of God (John 1:12-13). When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray He taught them to pray specifically to the Father (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). Of course the Bible teaches us that we have a variety of identities. We are servants of God (2 Cor. 6:4). Friends of God (John 15:15). Saints (Rom. 1:7). New creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). Disciples (Acts 6:2). But far more than any other description the NT tells us we are God’s children. The Holy Spirit inspired the NT authors to repeat terms and concepts like “God the Father”, “brothers”, “sons of God” and “children of God”. The great multiplicity of these terms should make us realize that our Christian life is a family life. And God the Father is our heavenly Father. Doing so will cause us to better self-identify as His children. Then, the things pertaining to our family status will also take on more meaning. For instance, our inheritance is based on the reality that we are children of God. The more we regard God the Father in our lives the more our identity will be strengthened. The more our confidence of His love for us will be strengthened. The more our hope for the future will grow and the more our sense of belonging to Him will develop.
Thirdly, praying to God the Father makes a clearer indication of our faith in the Triune God. We believe the Bible’s teaching that there is one God who is three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many unbelievers speak of “God” in a generic way, but, do not accept the Biblical revelation of a Triune God. They may be Theists, but, that is still a long way from being a Christian. Calling on God the Father shows we understand God is revealed in Scripture as a Triune God and doing so distinguishes us from the unbelieving Theist.