Heidelberg Catechism Q.120

Q.120. Why did Christ command us
to call God “our Father”?


A. 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.


Have you ever reflected upon who was speaking these words?  Jesus is the speaker and he teaches his disciples to pray with two profound opening words.  The first word, our, is hard for me to wrap my mind around.  You see, Jesus could have said, “Pray this way, my father…” or he could have said “Pray to your father…” Both of these statements would have distanced Christ from us, but instead he said, pray to our Father.  The Father, who answers all prayers and cares for his people is my father, your father and Jesus’ Father. By using the word our, he identifies with us in our needs.  He understands our need to pray and seek God’s help in everything.  He is like us in every way.  Read Hebrews 2:5-18.


But Christ did more than just identify with us, the words our Father are words of relationship.  They express a relationship between all believers and the Father. But they also express a relationship between all believers and Jesus Christ.  We are brothers and sisters with Jesus.  We are siblings.  He is a faithful family member and we can count on Christ just like we count on the Father.  Read Mark 3:31-35.


So how are we to approach our Father?  We are to approach him in childlike faith.  We must come to our Father believing that He really does care for us.  We must come to our Father, believing that He really does want to meet our needs and in fact can and will meet our needs.  We must come to our Father eagerly anticipating the relationship of love, which will be poured out upon each and every child. Read Mark 10:13-16.


Read Matthew 7:9-11.  We pray to God because he gives us good gifts.  He is not a stingy old man who plays practical jokes on those who ask for help.  On the contrary, everything we receive in this life that is good is given from his hand. Even more, he is able to take any situation we encounter and turn it to our good and to strengthen our faith.  This is why we pray to Our Father.


The Father/Son relationship is a powerful image to draw upon.  In the Hebrew mind, to be a Son was to bear the very image of the Father.  What the Father was, the Son was.  The Father’s character is ascribed to the Son.  This is why Jesus could say radical things like, “if you have seen me you have seen the Father” or “I and the Father are one.”  When we pray to our Father, we are praying as image bearers of God, people who have been restored in righteousness and holiness to a proper relationship with our Maker.  And when we ask in this righteous and holy relationship for things that are themselves righteous and holy, we can be assured that what we ask for will be granted.  Read 1John 5:13-15.


The question naturally in my mind is this: What causes one to become a Son of God so that they can pray in true righteousness and holiness?  The answer – Faith in Jesus Christ.  When we believe the truth of the gospel story, that we are sinful and estranged from God, that Christ is perfect and offers himself for us and that we cannot earn this gift, then we begin to live as children of our heavenly Father.  In faith, believe the story and live it out and let it affect the things in your prayers.  Read Galatians 3:26.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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