“Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I think all Christians do that in their own way. My prayers are sometimes done in church with others. At other times they are read at home from a prayer book or meditation. At still other times my prayers are shot off like little prayer blasts to God from my mind.
They come at odd times during the day when I’m thinking about something or someone or facing some challenge or joy. Some of them aren’t even requests but just a word of thanks.
They almost always begin, “Dear heavenly Father . . .” I’ve been doing it so long I can’t remember why I begin most of my prayers with those words. Most likely it comes from Luther’s comment about the address of the Lord’s Prayer: “God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true Father and that we are his true children, so that we may pray to him as boldly and confidently as dear children ask their dear father.”
It’s no stretch to think of God as a dear Father. God has adopted me through faith in Jesus. I am forgiven, loved, and cared for. Like any child, I disappoint him often. Some of my short prayers are just “Heavenly Father, forgive me.” But he is still my heavenly Father who loves me and wants me to pray to him. His love embraces me when I disappoint him, when I face hardships and challenges, or when I just marvel at the blessings he has given me.
God has given me the role of father. It’s a privilege to follow his lead, direction, and example.
He has taught me about being a father. He, of course, is my role model, but I also had a good example as I grew up, an earthly father who knew his heavenly Father. I learned forgiveness and love from both. In some ways, I learned the principles from my heavenly Father and the practical patterns to follow from my earthly one. Of course, that’s not completely accurate, but it helps me understand both of them.
I have the privilege of following the lessons of both as a father to another generation. I have learned that being a father is more than getting someone pregnant. My heavenly Father didn’t just create me and forget about me. He still has a deep interest in who I am and what I do even though I am long past the age of a child. He always wants what is best for me. He corrects, encourages, and always loves. I’ve learned much about being a father from him. God has given me the role of father. It’s a privilege to follow his lead, direction, and example.
I think of these things when the example of my heavenly Father seems to have disappeared in so many households. Power and dominance explode in raised angry voices. Children are abandoned by their fathers and left with their mothers—and sometimes abandoned by both. Domestic abuse replaces what my heavenly Father teaches men about fatherhood, about love, about caring, about encouragement, about what is best for sons and daughters.
Let me shoot off one short prayer for Father’s Day: “Heavenly Father, help me to be a better father. Help every father to follow your lead, direction, and example as they care for their children.”
I don’t always think to say “Amen” in my prayer blasts. Sometimes I am already adding something. Like this time: “Heavenly Father, show your love to all children and care for those who have been abandoned by their earthly fathers.” And another: “Heavenly Father, bless and support all fathers as they care for their children.”
Author: John A. Braun
Volume 109, Number 06
Issue: June 2022