The Lord's Prayer, Part 1Access to Your Father
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and before we begin today's Revive Our Hearts, I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity to share biblical truth each weekday. I'm so thankful for everyone who makes it possible, including those who are part of the Revive Our Hearts Ministry Partner Team.
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Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss knows her limitations.
Nancy: I’ll tell you what, if I walked up to the White House today, there is no way that I could get in to see the President. I don’t know enough names to drop to get me in to see the President.
But when I approach the throne room of God, the God of the universe, I have access—immediate, 24/7. In every circumstance, every situation I can cry out to Him because He is my Father.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 24.
Have you taken advantage today of the full access you have as a child of God? Here’s Nancy, continuing a series called, The Lord’s Prayer, Part 1.
Nancy: If you’ve been listening to our series on the Lord’s Prayer, you probably were wondering if we were ever going to make it to the Lord’s Prayer. We spent the first four sessions talking about the context and the background of the Lord’s Prayer. Then in the last session we finally got to the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father.”
I hope that as we’re studying this prayer, you’re taking time to meditate on these words, to ask God to tutor you by His Holy Spirit, and to ask God, as I have been, to help your prayer life grow as you use the Lord’s Prayer as a basis, a pattern, a template, a model for your praying.
We started on those two words, “Our Father,” but they’re so rich I can’t leave them there. We’re going to spend a couple more days talking about our Father, and I want us to look today at some of the implications of God being our Father, and being able to pray to Him as our Father.
We saw in the last session that it was radical in Jesus’ era for Him to say that you could start your prayer by saying, “Our Father.” That was unheard of to the Jews. They had never been able to call God “our Father” individually. Yes, He was the Father of their nation, but there are only fourteen references to God as Father in the whole Old Testament.
And then you come to the gospels, and there are between sixty and seventy times that Jesus calls God Father. Incredible! Unthinkable! Awesome! What a privilege! I want us to spend some more time bathing in the wonder of some of the implications, what it means to be able to call Him our Father.
As you pray and meditate on that phrase, there are probably others that will come to your mind, but let me share with you several that have come to me through my meditation.
First of all, when we say “Our Father,” we realize that we are not independent beings; that we are created beings, and that God is our source. You talk about somebody being “the father of modern science” or the father of a particular study—it means they’re the one who started it. They’re the beginning of it, the fountainhead.
God is the Father. In a sense He is the Father of all creation; not in the sense of having an intimate father-child relationship with Him, but He started the whole creation.
We have to be born into His family through adoption, as we talked about in the last session. But we realize when we call God our Father that we are not independent. We didn’t create ourselves. We cannot breathe apart from God. To say Father is to realize that our origin is in Him and that we have been born of God, that we derive our life from Him.
So when we pray to Him, we’re praying to the Creator. We’re praying to the source of every good gift. Prayer puts us in a place of dependence, and saying “Our Father” is a recognition of that.
Then, as we pray “our Father,” we’re speaking of relationship with God. It’s a reference, I think, to the intimacy that we can have with God as His children—an intimate relationship. We’re speaking of the nearness of God.
“Our Father” is really the essence of true prayer. It’s not a method. It’s not a formula. It’s not just some lines you say over and over again. It’s a relationship.
I think a lot of times—again, I want to speak for myself—I find that frequently my prayers lack that sense of relationship, that sense of fellowship. I enjoy talking with other people. I talk comfortably with other people. I have some wonderful friends. We enjoy each other’s company; we talk.
But somehow I get into this mode of prayer, and it’s like there’s no relationship there. I know what I’m supposed to say. I know what I’m supposed to ask. I know how I’m supposed to worship. But I’m missing the sense of relationship.
As I’ve been meditating on the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord has been calling me to experience prayer more as a matter of relationship; to recognize that I’m approaching Him not just as the great supreme being, eternal God—He is all that—but as somebody I’m related to intimately, someone who is near.
We’re not praying to a stranger. We’re not praying to someone who’s indifferent. As we said, pagan religions often see God as being indifferent. We are praying to someone who wants to have an intimate relationship with us.
When we pray, we’re drawing near, through Christ, to one to whom we are intimately and eternally related, one who loves us and is supremely wise and good, one who knows what is best for us. He delights in us. He’s willing and able to protect us and to provide for us and to pardon us, as we request in the Lord’s Prayer; someone who has more in store for us as a Father than we could ever imagine.
I love that verse in 1 John 3:1 that says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” There’s a wonder in that. There’s this sense of intimacy, of drawing near—the nearness of God.
Related to that, because we can call Him our Father, we have access to the mighty King and Governor and Ruler and Potentate of the universe. I’ll tell you what, if I walked up to the White House today, there is no way that I could get in to see the President. I don’t know enough names to drop to get me in to see the President.
But when I approach the throne room of God, the God of the universe, I have access—immediate, 24/7. In every circumstance, every situation I can cry out to Him because He is my Father.
When I think of God as Father, I often think of my own dad. My dad taught us so much by his life about what a good father is.
Now, all analogies break down when you’re comparing any human being to God, but there were aspects of the fatherhood of God that I first came to experience by having a good earthly father. I know many in this room have not had that, but I want to just share with you a little bit about my dad so you can know that it is possible to have that kind of relationship.
My dad, Art DeMoss, was a very busy man. But we seven children always felt that we could talk to him, that we could get to him. No matter who he was with, no matter what he was doing at his office, the feeling that we had was that he was never too busy to be disturbed by us.
There are some other people who had to stand in line and get appointments with him; we didn’t have to stand in line. We would go to his office sometimes. This was a real big treat for us. Children couldn’t get past the receptionist typically. They couldn’t just walk in and out of my dad’s office, for sure. But we could, and that was a big deal to us. “We’re going to see our dad!”
We had access to the office of the president, the owner of the company, the founder of the company. We could get into that third-floor office because he was our dad, because our last name was DeMoss. If your name is Christian, if you’re a child of God, you have access to the throne of God.
I think about that passage in Hebrews 10 where the writer to the Hebrews is talking about how we have received access through Christ, and what He did on the cross by dying for our sins, and the implication of that. He says in Hebrews 10:19–22:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through is flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
March right up to the door. Go in the door! Go up to the throne, to the holiest place, where in the Old Testament only the high priest could enter, and then only once a year. That veil that separated the holiest place from the rest of the worshipers and the rest of the temple—that veil was torn in two when Christ died.
Through faith in Christ we have access to walk into that room, to see the shed blood there on the mercy seat, and to say, “God, cloaked in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, adopted into Your family through no merit of my own, I come to the corner suite, to the penthouse suite, to the president’s office, to the king’s office.” I have access through Christ, and so do you if you are a child of God.
To be able to call Him our Father means that when we approach Him, we don’t have to slither in or cower in fear. We can come in confidence. That’s what Hebrews says. We can come “with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” We come in confidence, assurance, trust.
The Old Testament made reference to God as Father occasionally, but Jesus introduces the fatherhood of God as the basis for all true prayer. The Old Testament saints approached God with fear and trembling, and there’s some sense in which we need to restore that sense of awe and reverence. We’ll talk about that when we come to the request “Hallowed be thy name.”
The Jews in the Old Testament approached God as Jehovah, Mighty God. But that intimate relationship of a child speaking with a father is made possible through Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ we are made children of God.
Once we are His children, once we know Him as Father, we can be confident that He will do as we ask in any matter that He has declared to be His will. If He has said, “This is My will,” we can come and we can pray with confidence that our Father will do it.
Now, the fact that we’re God’s children doesn’t mean that He will give us everything or anything we ask for. But it does mean that He will grant us anything that is in accordance with His character, His will, and for our good; that He will never withhold any good thing from us.
Here’s something else that it means when we call God our Father. I think one of the important implications here is that of respect and reverence for God’s authority as our Father. There’s the intimacy—our Father—but there’s also the sense that He is the Father and we’re not.
Your kids hopefully don’t speak to you in a way that treats you as an equal. You train your children to speak with respect to you, to recognize your position as their parent, as a mother, as a father.
When we call God our Father, this suggests that we owe Him appropriate respect and devotion. We are not His equals. He is the head of this household of faith.
He bids us come; He welcomes us to come. He wants to be intimate with us. He loves us. He has compassion for us. But He is our Father, so we come to Him with respect.
Hebrews 12 references this. In that whole chapter 12 where it’s talking about God’s discipline as a heavenly Father, it likens it to the discipline we receive from our earthly fathers, and it says in verse 9,
We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
To call Him our Father means we come with respect and with submission. We bow the knee. “Our Father, we love You. We worship You. We adore You. We draw near to You, but You are not our equal. You are in charge. You are the authority in this relationship.”
To speak of God as our Father refers to the love and the care and the concern of God, the compassion of God, the tender heart of God. There is a simplicity to life when you see yourself as a child of God.
You realize that our heavenly Father knows our needs, and He’s able to meet them. He’s encouraged, invited, urged us to come and tell Him our needs as our Father. He’s committed to meet our needs. He’s not stressed or strained by doing it.
Sometimes your kids ask you for something, like maybe a car or a college education, and you’re thinking, “I’d love to do it for you, but our budget can’t quite support the answer to that request.”
We have a God whose budget is never stressed, never strained, never stretched; a God for whom nothing is too difficult, and a God who loves to meet the needs of His creation and His children; a God who cares for us; a God who is always conscious of what we need.
You continue reading in Matthew 6 after the Lord’s Prayer, and you find so much of the tenderhearted care and compassion of God, even for the wildflowers and the birds. “If God so clothes the grass of the field . . . will he not much more clothe you?” (Matt. 6:30)
We have a God who cares, a Father who cares, a Father who provides for His children and doesn’t just give us the care and the attentiveness that He gives to the natural world or to the animal kingdom. Those are amazing enough. But He gives to us as His children much more care and attention, for He has given His Son to redeem us.
As Paul says in Romans 8:32, “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” He’s a generous Father, a loving Father, a caring, compassionate, concerned Father.
Now, I realize (and I referred to this in the last session) that when we say the word father, there are those today, sadly, for whom that word does not evoke the warm, positive, loving memories that I have in my heart when I think of the word father.
My dad died on the weekend of my twenty-first birthday. I’m the oldest of seven children, and when my dad died, the children were ages 8–21. We realized when he died that, as we compared notes, we all thought we were his favorite child. Of course I really was, but we all thought that.
So we’ve been blessed with something many women today do not have. I’m not saying he was a perfect father. By no means was he perfect. He would have been the first to tell you that. But he showed us so much of the heart of our heavenly Father.
But I realize that many, many people today have very different memories and associations when they think of the word father. The words they associate with father are things more like: fear, dread, abandonment, harshness, maybe even violation, wrong images.
I want to say to you that as you study the gospels, you realize that Jesus came to show us His Father, who is unlike any earthly father we’ve ever had. Even the best of them is just a pale reflection of our heavenly Father.
That’s why, if you want to know the Father heart of God, if you want to really be able to pray “Our Father,” you need to get to know Jesus in the Scripture.
I’m looking at my friend Jenny over here, whose father died when she was age three. She never knew her father. But she’s come to know her heavenly Father by looking at the Scripture and coming to know who Jesus is—Jesus who came to reveal the Father to us.
He shows us that our Father in heaven is a faithful Father who never leaves, never forsakes His family; a loving Father, an engaged Father, a tender Father, a holy Father. Study the life of Jesus, and you’ll see what He came to reveal about our Father.
That relationship with our heavenly Father is the foundation for the entire Lord’s Prayer. We pray all the rest of this prayer based on those first two words, “Our Father.”
We pray as His children, “Hallowed be thy name.” That means, as His children, we love our Father’s name, and we want to see it reverenced and esteemed as holy.
“Thy kingdom come.” As His children, we say, “Lord, I love Your kingdom. You’re my Father. I love Your kingdom, and I want You to reign and rule in every heart.”
As His children, we love our Father’s will. So we say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We want to see everyone everywhere obey the will of our Father because He is our Father, and we love His will.
We come to our Father for the provision of daily bread, trusting that our Father is willing and able to meet our basic needs.
We come to our Father and plead with Him for pardon, for forgiveness. We come not brashly, not flaunting our sin; by no means. We come grieved that we have sinned against a Father who loves us so much. We come humble hearted. We come grateful that He would extend forgiveness to us. But we come boldly through Christ Jesus, saying, “Father, forgive us our debts.”
We appeal to our Father to protect us from evil.
I don’t know why this is, because my father was not a real practical man in some ways, and had there been somebody breaking into the house, I’m not sure he would have known what to do. My mother probably would have been the one to know better what to do in that case. But you know, I always felt safer when Dad was home, when there was a man in the house who had a father’s heart. We come to our Father to protect us from the Evil One, from temptation.
All these requests in the Lord’s Prayer come in the context of children praying to our Father. It’s why those first two words are so important. The rest of the Lord’s Prayer won’t make as much sense and won’t be as meaningful. It will not be as precious to you if you have not come to see Him as our Father.
Charles Spurgeon said it this way:
There is heaven in the depth of that word—Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, "Father."1
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss quoting Charles Spurgeon. Did you catch that whole quote? If you’re like me you need to go back and ponder rich words like that. You can by reading today’s transcript. Take the time you need to read over that quote and all of Nancy’s ideas.
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We’ve looked today at God as our Father. Is it equally valid to think of God as our mother? Nancy will take up that question tomorrow. Now let’s pray. Nancy is back to lead us.
Nancy: Father, we just say thank You. It’s incredible that You should have loved us enough to adopt us into Your family. We thank You for Your nearness, for the intimacy that is possible with You, for the relationship that we can have with You, the access, the confidence, the assurance of Your love and Your care and Your concern.
We come with respect and with reverence and in awe and wonder and amazement and gratitude and joy, and we say, “Our Father.” Our Father, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
1Charles Hadden Spurgeon. Morning by Morning. January 26.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.
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