The young mother sat in my office, tears slowly sliding down her face, her eyes swollen with years of frustration. I asked her, “What is one question you would like to ask your father?” Her sad reply spoke volumes: “Hey, Dad, remember me?”
She tearfully explained that she and her father were never close, that he was distant at best. From time to time he made his presence known by raising his voice or asking for something around the house pertaining to his needs. But as this young women related, “He may have spoken only five sentences to me personally in my years of growing up.”
Family relationship statistics are alarming today, as more and more people talk about how the absence of their fathers in their lives has left a gaping hole they now seek to fill. Other relationships are impacted, including the most important one—that with God. The young mother explained her primary reason for counseling in these words: “How do I pray to my Father in heaven? I’ve never really talked to my physical father growing up. I can’t connect.”
If you’ve suffered from such a communication barrier, that relational challenge is a very difficult chasm to cross. Being disconnected from your human father—for whatever reasons—makes it harder to connect with God your Father in prayer. Yet Jesus taught His disciples, “In this manner, therefore, pray, ‘Our Father in heaven …’” (Matthew 6:9 Matthew 6:9After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
American King James Version×). And God says that He is “a father of the fatherless” (Psalms 68:5 Psalms 68:5A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
American King James Version×). So if you’ve had a strained relationship or nonexistent one with your physical father, here are some thoughts to help you truly connect with your spiritual Father.
• Talk to God the Father as to your friend.
We all have friends. We know what it’s like to sit and just talk, sharing our deepest thoughts, ideas and desires. One of the great gifts God has given human beings is the ability to communicate.
Go to Him in prayer and begin: “God, it’s hard to talk to you as to a father since I’ve never really talked to my physical father before, but I want to be your friend. I know many times in your Word you mention being our Friend. You said that Abraham was your friend (Isaiah 41:8 Isaiah 41:8But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.
American King James Version×). So could we please just talk?”
Start gradually. Good friends build relationships through communication.
• Keep in mind that your Father in heaven knows and plans for your needs.
The fact that the Almighty and Eternal God is aware of and will take care of your personal needs (Matthew 6:28-33 Matthew 6:28-33 28 And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Why, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×) is pretty cool! Make a list and go over those things you need with your spiritual Father. Discuss your plans with Him—and what you need to fulfill those plans.
Good fathers love to plan for the future with their children. And remember this encouraging directive: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 1 Peter 5:6-7 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care on him; for he cares for you.
American King James Version×). God the Father loves you and wants you to succeed in life now and beyond.
• Realize that your spiritual Father deeply wants to communicate with you.
Never mind that you may have not been able to talk meaningfully with your physical father when it comes to approaching God. Your Heavenly Father wants to hear from you—and to talk with you. Pray often to Him—He’s always there, available to listen. And listen for Him —not an audible voice but communication that is spiritually perceived.
Open your Bible and begin to read, for God communicates with us through His written Word. And He helps us to understand through His Spirit. Through His Word and Spirit, God speaks to a person’s heart and mind with a sense of moral righteousness and fairness. He’ll instill certain ideas and thoughts in your mind. And when He’s done, you’ll usually know what to do.
Since God your Father has unlimited ways to lead you to answers, He may use other forms of communication. For example, He may lead you to wise, godly people for an answer. Or He may arrange circumstances so that His answer becomes obvious.
God wants you to talk to Him and to trust Him. He will love you and teach you—and He’ll never leave you (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×). Yes, if you’ve had an uncaring or absentee father, it may be hard for you to understand how someone who calls Himself “your Father” really desires to talk with you, but He does!
• Read God’s Word to learn more about the Father you have not really known but always wanted to know!
Many young adults desire to find out more about their parents, particularly their father. What was his family background? What was he like as a boy? Where did he live, and what did he do? You can do most of this with your Father in heaven—it’s in His Book!
The Bible is God’s instruction manual for all of us. Reading it may be difficult at first, but after a while it gets easier and soon becomes enjoyable as you learn more about God as your Father. Jesus Christ spoke often of His relationship with His Father, and He shared many personal aspects of that relationship. This is a good way to find out more about His Father, who is your Father also!
• Consider how God has been involved in your life.
Reflect about God’s past intervention in the circumstances of your life. Some of His actions may have been corrective to help you stop committing a particular sin. Other times His actions were rewards for your obedience that pleased Him.
Think of the times He brought you out of difficult and hopeless situations. Think about when the most unexpected things happened in your life. Some pass these events off as blind luck or fate, but many see God’s handwriting all over them. Think of those times when your Heavenly Father was there for you. God our Father is very much more involved in our lives than we realize.
• Look to the Son of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ.
The Father shares the same love and care for each person that Jesus showed for others during His human life on this earth. Who is God the Father? He is the One who is eagerly waiting to throw His arms around you, to comfort you, to embrace you and let you cry on His shoulder. He wants to tell you that you’re His son or daughter and that He’ll never leave you! And to say, “Don’t worry—in the end it’s going to be just fine!”
When Jesus opened the eyes of blind, He declared that God the Father is like Himself. Each time He fed the hungry or raised the dead He was telling the world that His Father is just like that too.
Jesus revealed who really did and does all those good things: “The Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10 John 14:10Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
American King James Version×). When Jesus forgave those who killed Him He showed us that His Father also forgives because the Father is truly a God of love. As Jesus declared, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (verse 9).
• Remember that God desires a relationship with you as His child.
God our Father desires a family. He loves children. Although we may not have had a strong and healthy relationship with our father before, realize that now is a great time to begin one with God our Father. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1 1 John 3:1Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
American King James Version×). The wonderful truth is that we are never too old to start that relationship.
“Hey, Dad, remember me?” Yes, our Father in heaven does remember you. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30 Matthew 10:30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
American King James Version×). And God looks forward to getting to know you even better and building a relationship that will last for eternity! Reach out to Him now because He is reaching out to you.