I kneel before the Father. 

In the church of first-century Ephesus, a community of Jews and Greeks, prayer was part of the rhythm of life.   But for both the groups, praying to God as “Father” would have been a new thing.   Greeks would have thought of their gods as powerful but aloof.   And Jews related to God in respectful awe as the almighty Creator.   So when Paul, a Jew, referred to God using the Greek word pater, it must have been striking.   What was he doing?

Echoing Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, Paul was trying to express a whole new understanding of God:  he loves us and cares for us as a father loves and cares for his children.

Throughout his life, Jesus told his disciples to approach God as Abba, or “Daddy.”   He astonished them with his own simple intimate conversations with God, and he encouraged them to do the same.   In Bethany, at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus prayed,  “Father, I thank you for hearing me, I know that you always hear me” (John 11:41-42).   During the agonizing moments before his arrest in Gethsemane, he cried out,  “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you” (Mark 14:36).

It is in this same spirit that Paul describes kneeling “before the Father” (Ephesians 3:14).   And it is in the same spirit that you can talk with God today.   It can be hard to think that almighty God cares for you as personally and emotionally as a loving Father, especially if your own experience of family left much to be desired.   But you don’t have to convince yourself of this truth.   You can ask God to convince you instead.

The next time you pray the Our Father, pause at the word “Father.”   Let that truth sink in.   Let amazement and gratitude for this truth wash over you. God is your Father.   You are made in his image.   You are part of his family.   Then linger over the rest of the prayer.   Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting with God, your own Father, and saying these words.   Imagine the look of love in his eyes as he receives your prayer.   Imagine how happy it makes him to hear these words come from your heart.

Word Among Us