Summary: The Lord's Prayer tells us God is our "Heavenly Father". That implies that God uses the better tendencies of earthly fathers to communicate who He is. So, what are the traits of decent Earthly fathers?
(Explanation of opening: The traditionally memorized version of the Lord’s Prayer is found only in the KJV. Since we have ESV pew Bibles – which leave off the last verse – I felt that would create confusion as to why that verse was missing. I didn’t want to go there, so I put the KJV on screen and had the congregation stand and recite the Prayer with me)
OPEN: Repeat the Lord’s Prayer with me:
“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (KJV)
ILLUS: The Lord’s prayer is an elegant and inspiring piece of literature. But such elegance and inspiration is sometimes lost on the young. The following are some of the “reinterpretations” of the Prayer by children:
One little girl began her prayer like this: "Our Father, who art in heaven. Hello! What be Thy name?"
Another five-year-old girl prayed: "Give us this day our daily bread, and liberty and justice for all."
A kindergartener asked God to "give us this day our jelly bread."
hen there was the little boy who prayed, "Forgive us our dentists, as we forgive our dentists."
One child climaxed his prayer like this: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen and F.M."
But one of my favorite was a young boy who prayed, “Our Father, who art in heaven, how’d you know my name?”
APPLY: As I began to think about what sermon to preach to sum up our series on “How to Strengthen the “Fragile Family” I kept coming back to this idea of God as our Father.
As I often do, I did little background study for the sermon and decided to look up how many times God was called Father in Scripture. I discovered that there’s over 1000 verses that use the word “father” and of those, a little over 1/3 referred to God as “Father”. What struck me as unusual was that in the Old Testament you could count on both hands where God was called “Father”, but by contrast, in the New Testament, there were between 200 to 300 verses that called Him that.
A few of those come easily to mind
• The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 speaks of the prodigal’s father who waited for his son to return… and it is obvious the father Jesus spoke of in that parable was the heavenly Father.
• In Matthew 28:19 it speaks of “baptizing in the name of the FATHER, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
• John 14:2 “In my FATHER’S House there are many mansions”
• John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the FATHER except through me.”
• And of course there is this prayer during Jesus Sermon on the Mount where He taught His disciples to pray “Our Father who art in heaven”
So the first question that comes to my mind is this: How come there are so many more verses in the New Testament than in Old Testament calling God our Father? Well, I’m not quite sure (we’re not told) but this much I’m certain of: In the New Testament it’s obvious that you can’t have God as your Father if you’re not a Christian.
Galatians 4:6 for example tells us “… because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”
It’s the Spirit’s presence in our lives that gives us the desire and the privilege of calling God our Father. As some scholars have noted “Abba” is a very intimate and personal term - kind of like a child calling their father “Daddy.”
Back in the 1980s some believers began to refer to God as “Daddy” and it just didn’t seem right somehow. It was like they missed the point of what Scripture was telling us here. But while I wasn’t comfortable with their use of that term there’s no mistaking the fact that Abba was meant to help us see God someone who desired us to have an intimate and personal relation with Him. He was communicating that He was not some impersonal “otherworldly” being – He was not an uncaring and distant deity. He wanted us to see Him as our Heavenly Father. He wanted us understand that because of that - He was there to protect, guard, us, and supply for our needs. He is our FATHER.
One person said that: “God loves fathers because He is one.” (James I. Lamb) That’s cool! But that truth also points to a powerful reality it implies that God is the model of what it means to be a good Dad.