FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
Since we want to pray according to the will of God, it is important to note that Jesus taught us to address God as our heavenly Father. He is our Father through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. As we pin this pattern on our prayers, pause to think about this special relationship and thank Him for it. A father loves his child and delights in him or her. A child has access to his father; a much freer access than a servant or a cousin or even a friend. Think of a daughter skipping into the arms of her father. This mutual love relationship brings tears when the father shows disapproval. In earthly relationships, the son never quite gets over rejection by his father;that bitterness lingers on and on. Through faith, we do not have to fear that kind of rejection from our heavenly Father who is full of mercy and kindness.
Not only do we seek His approval, but God’s reputation means everything to us. Boys come up fighting when someone slurs their Dad. We want our heavenly Father to be well thought of by everyone; for others to know something of His mercy and kindness and grace. We would hate to slander His name and character by our words or actions. This is a familial relationship, personal, intimate, enriching all of life.
ARE YOU A PRINCESS?
I have a friend who said, “Sometimes my friends seem jealous of me. They think my car is too sporty. I can’t help it I’m a princess! My father loved me and cared for me; my husband loves me and gives me whatever he can afford.” She reciperates with love and respect for them. We do the same when we realize that God is our Father in the special way that only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The assurance given to our hearts by the Holy Spirit is that this is true of our relationship with God. “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15). A cry that anticipates all that it means to be a son or daughter: family, acceptance, inheritance:”The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Romans 8:16-17). To acknowledge God as our Father is to remember that Jesus Christ is also His son. He serves as our elder brother, pleading our case with the Father. This is a heart feeling that results in fervency of spirit and zeal to live for Him; to serve Him with everything we have. This is our comfort and assurance that we are truly redeemed. The thought makes us thankful, so before we begin our list, we are filled with thanksgiving. Our faith, love, and fervency are the outward evidences we can observe of His presence and acceptance.
Now if you skip all this and rush right into your list, you may very well be thinking of God only as your Lord or some Cosmic Power. Thomas Watson said, “Anyone can think of God as the Creator, but it takes the Holy Spirit to cause us to think of Him as our Father.” Relationship changes everything. Enter the presence of God with fear and trembling as a child comes with his requests with respect and tears for his misgivings. Think relationally before you open your mouth. Don’t throw out this piece of the pattern if you want to pray according to the will of God. It is His will for us to acknowledge this special relationship with Him that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Children are often in a hurry to get the praying over and eat, or play, or watch TV. Use their rushing as a reminder to later teach about how we know we are God’s child, really knowing from the heart, and how that assures us that we have indeed received faith. They could even memorize Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Their hurry can be turned into a teaching moment.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:1). Knowing you are His princess surely will make you thankful and fill you with His praise. And you will be praying according to the will of God.