“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” – Matthew 6:9-10, NIV
When Jesus is instructing his disciples on how to pray using what we know today as the Lord’s Prayer, he makes some powerful statements. Jesus opens up the prayer with some powerful words: “Our Father in heaven.”
What does it mean that we have a father in heaven? How does God compare to our earthly parents? What does the Bible say about this idea?
What Does the Bible Say About God as Our Father?
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8, NIV
The Bible references God as “our Father” or “the Father” on numerous occasions in both the Old and New Testaments, including:
- Romans 8:16: The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
- Malachi 2:10: Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
- Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Matthew 6:26: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
- Psalm 103:13: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
- John 20:17: Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Jesus also reiterates this idea of God as our father by using the parable of the lost son in Matthew 15. He details the story of two sons and their father. One of these sons took his inheritance and squandered it. As he began to starve, he realized he was no longer worthy of being a son in his father’s household. He returned home to ask to work as a hired hand. However, his father embraced him and welcomed him home with a celebration — not as a hired hand, but as a son.
For Christians, these references to God as our father have meaningful significance.
What Does it Mean That We Have a Heavenly Father?
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will — to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” – Ephesians 1:5-6
Having a heavenly Father means that we are a part of the family of God. Through Jesus, we can receive eternal life and adoption into God’s family. This comes with many implications. As God’s children, we know that we are loved by Him.
We also know that good parents care for their children and pay attention to their needs. God also takes care of us. Even if we do not understand, God can see a bigger picture than we can when it comes to our lives and our daily needs. The fact that God views us as His children also reflects the fact that He no longer holds our sins against us because of Jesus Christ, but instead has a personal connection with us.
How Does God Compare to Our Earthly Father Figures?
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:9-11, NIV
God is unlike an earthly parental figure; He is a much better father than we as humans can comprehend. His love for us is incomparable. In Matthew, Jesus describes how even earthly fathers know how to give gifts and that our heavenly Father gives much more.
Unlike human parents, God is perfect. He does not make mistakes like earthly fathers do. He loves us more than a human father could comprehend.
Each year, there is a day devoted to celebrating earthly fathers and what they do for us. We should be more than willing to celebrate our heavenly Father — not just on a yearly basis, but daily. God has welcomed us into His family with open arms.
When children respect and obey their parents, they are putting their trust in them. We can do the same with God. When we love, respect and obey God, we put our trust in our heavenly Father.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.