My wife went to a women’s prayer seminar this past weekend at our church building. She came back with something that stuck with me. I’ve known for a long time but have just ignored it and needed a reminder of what God is looking for in prayer. She said, “Prayer isn’t necessarily about asking God for stuff, or even about Him answering them. It’s about relationship.”
That kind of hit home with me as I agreed to it, remembering that taught to me a long time ago. She went on a little further. “I was asked what I call God in prayer, and in a pause before my answer, I say, ‘Dad’ and then pause afterward because it doesn’t seem like I should be able to call Him that.”
Even though we know that God has torn the veil through Christ, and now we have direct access to Him because of the cross, the privilege of calling Him “Father” is still scary. I know we can enter the throne room with confidence because of grace. I know those things. But it’s still seems a little weird to call the Creator and Sustainer of all life, “Daddy” like Paul does in Romans.
The best illustration of grasping these thoughts that I can find has everything to do with being a parent. There’s an element of my kids being able to call me father, but also an element of respect that comes with it. For example, I lay down the rules of the home and they’ll be followed or suffer the consequences. It’s not a mean way to live, but a real one. Every one of us faces the results of our decisions and actions. If our children aren’t taught that in the home, they’ll think the world owes them something when leave the home to go on their own. And that simply isn’t the way things work.
Anyway, there’s a respect factor that’s grounded in humility. Arrogance can get in the way of the privilege if they get too comfortable. It’s like this: we have fun playing, but the moment they argue with a rule I’ve set in place, there’s a “reminder” of who’s rule it is and what happens when we don’t follow that rule. So humility is very important as well.
Last week I was working out with another pastor from Radiant Church in town. He was telling me about a lesson he gave to the youth group last Wednesday. He used a really neat example that I’ve never thought of, even though I’ve seen the movie a few times. He pointed that every time Thor introduced himself in the movie, he mentioned who his father was. He associated himself with his father. It gave him identity, power, and confidence. But the moment he became arrogant, his father did was necessary to teach him the importance of humility even though he had a very close relationship with his dad.
There’s a lesson in there. Knowing our Father, being found in Him, gives us an identity, power to overcome, and confidence in this life and the next. But with our interaction with our heavenly Father, humility is of utmost importance. Remember what He’s done to make a way for us to call Him our Father.
Prayer is about relationship.
Going back to parenting, I’ve also noticed how I treat my Father most of the time. My children do it too. A majority of the interaction with my children comes from them asking me for things. All day long sometimes, they come up with questions like, “Can I have a drink? Can I play the Wii? Is alright if I go outside? What are you making?” Then there’s the other side of things, the tattling, “He hit me! He’s not sharing! She took that from me! He won’t play with me!” When I come home, these are some of the things that greet me.
What I long for is deeper than the asking for stuff and permission, more than the tattling. I want to know about their day, their school, what they’ve learned and the fun they’ve had with their friends. Rather than the tattling, I want to train them how handle situations where things aren’t going the way they’d like. I want to be involved in more of their lives than just the “genie” who makes their trouble go away and give them what they want.
This hurts when I put it in comparison with my relationship with God. If prayer is about relationship, then I’ve failed at developing the relationship with Him as my Father. He wants to know about my day. He wants to train me to develop godliness. Maybe, instead of being nosy about God’s plan for our lives, we’re supposed to develop a relationship with Him that demonstrates trust that He knows what He’s doing. I think He does want to know about our day. I don’t think He’s hiding things, but wants to show us what it will all end up turning out to be, something great for Him and us.
I want to challenge you think about what this looks like in your life. I’m not saying that asking God for things is wrong, but if our life is about worship to God and bringing Him glory, I think it’s a better idea to begin by working on our relationship with Him as Father so we’ll know what to ask for when we come to Him with a request.
Prayer is about relationship. How’s it going?