Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
“Our Father, who art in heaven….” It is quite likely that these are among the most well-known words of the New Testament. Many Christians would say that these words are very dear to them, as they are reminded of one of the great Christian truths, that God is Father to the believer.
Let us consider the use of the word ‘father’ in the Bible.
The examples of God being described or addressed as father in the Old Testament are rare; quite the opposite is true in the New Testament.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ, it is striking that he constantly refers to God either as his father, or greets him as Father, and that of course is because he is his Son. The stark exception is during Christ’s suffering on the cross, as Jesus cries out and quotes Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
Notice, then, the incredible privilege it was that Jesus Christ taught his disciples to also address God as ‘Father’. Apparently, it was not normal for the Jews to address God as father, but before teaching the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ to his disciples, Jesus tells them “But when you pray … pray to your Father.” (Matthew 6:6)
Using the word Father for God emphasises our relationship with God – a familial relationship. On top of that, the closeness of this relationship becomes more apparent as we remember Jesus would have used the Aramaic word abba. This word denotes a special closeness and tenderness, like a child greeting their father. This became very real to me some years ago when I travelled to Israel. I was visiting an archaeological site and another man was stood beside me, admiring the view. Suddenly, a small voice from behind us called out “Abba, abba.” The man’s child was calling out to get his father’s attention!
Our privilege as Christians is being able to address God as ‘Our Father’.
Iwan Rhys Jones, ‘Tad’, Geiriau Bywyd (2017)