Yesterday, thanks to Tim Chester’s new book on prayer, we began looking at what it means for us to pray to God as Father. We focused on the simplicity that comes from knowing we can approach God in this way: “Prayer is a child asking her father for help – nothing more, nothing less” (You Can Pray, p. 16).
Today, I want us to think about the sense of intimacy and boldness that calling on God as Father allows us to have.
I’m the father of three small children. And like most parents of little ones, it’s not uncommon for our night’s sleep to be interrupted with a tap on the shoulder, a few tears, or a persistent whisper in the ear of ‘Dad, Dad!’ Maybe they’ve had a bad dream, or they’ve been woken up by a bump in the night and can’t get back to sleep.
When our little visitors arrive and say, “I can’t sleep, can I have a cuddle?” sometimes my wife and I try to usher them back to their own beds; sometimes we give up and let them clamber in between us. Maybe it’s payback for years of doing the same thing to my parents!
But here’s the point: they’re free to ask. They’re free to approach, boldly and unashamedly, and ask for help. It fits perfectly within our relationship. We’re not going to turn them away.
Are you someone who has trouble sleeping? If you are, I’m really sorry. I know how unpleasant that can be. But can I suggest something: coming into my house in the middle of the night, walking into my bedroom, tapping me on the shoulder, waking me up and asking for a cuddle is probably not the best solution. You just don’t have the right to approach me in that way. You’re not my child, and I’m not your father.
When we approach God in prayer, he is not looking at us thinking, “What do you think you’re doing asking me that? You don’t have the right! Back off!” Calling on God as Father means we have the right to approach boldly, confidently, intimately. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:16) God’s perfect love for us drives out our fear.
Go ahead – ask boldly. Tap God on the shoulder. He’ll never turn away his child.
“Effective prayer is the fruit of a relationship with God, not a technique for acquiring blessings.” (Don Carson)
Gracious God, thank you for giving me then incredible right to approach you as my Father. Thank you that you’re unlike any earthly father, and that you are perfectly good. Thank you that you desire to give me good things. Please help me to approach you with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that my faith brings. In Jesus’ name. Amen.