God’s Fatherhood And Prayer -- By: Tom Wells
RAR 7:2 (Spring 1998) p. 79
God’s Fatherhood And Prayer
A moment’s thought will show that God’s nature—what He is like—plays a major role in prayer. There are two reasons for this. First, everything we do, everything we think, and our very existence depend on God. Were He a different God, we would be different people, or no people at all! Second, prayer is directed to God, not to others. When we pray, God is not a third party looking on, but the One who receives our prayers and deals with them as He sees fit. What He is like means everything.
Is He, for example, powerful? If not, our prayers are in vain. Theoretically no Christian can deny the power of God, but there is often just enough that is unique about our present circumstances to make us practically doubtful about His power to meet our specific need. That is why, in dealing with the Roman centurion whose servant was ill, Jesus treated belief in His power to heal as faith indeed (Matt. 8:5–10). When the centurion showed faith in Jesus’ authority over sickness (or the forces necessary to eradicate it), Jesus “marveled, and said …, ‘I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel’“ Faith in God, like faith in Jesus, is in part faith in His ability, His power. You will see immediately that other attributes of God must also come into play in trusting Him, such things as His good will toward you and His attention to your prayers (in theological terms, His omniscience). He must be a prayer-hearing God to be a prayer-answering God. One would be useless
RAR 7:2 (Spring 1998) p. 80
to prayer without the other. Yet the Bible shows that prayer, whether or not we grasp how it works, is anything but useless. Tennyson was on biblical ground when he wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Is there a word that captures this relation of God to the prayers of His people? There is: the word Father. The word Father is too rich to confine to His relation to our prayers, of course. That is clear. Like all but the most technical terms it means different things in different contexts. For example, it refers to the eternal relation between the Son as the second person of the Trinity and the Father as the first person. It has other uses as well.
The way the Lord Jesus treated His relation to His Father during His earthly ministry, however, offers us a model for our own thoughts of God’s fatherhood, and nowhere is this more applicable than in our prayers. Our sonship to God is built on the analogy of His own sonship. He is “the Firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). The firstborn in Israel was the chief heir, but his heirship did not...
Click here to subscribe