When Jesus was approached by His followers one time, they made a very important request:
Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
The answer that Jesus gave tells us the most important thing that we need to know about God. The act of prayer is seeking to speak and communicate with God. The name that Jesus used as His first point of reference speaks to the core identity of God and who He is. This is how Jesus told us to address God when we pray.
Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven
Our Father. Apart from anything else that we might consider about God, God is first and foremost a Father. This simple description tells us a lot about God. It tells us that above all things God is a relational being. He wants us to address Him in relationship terms. The term Father does not speak alone to abilities and power, but it speaks in terms of His relationship and connection to the universe. He is the Father or source of all things. So what kind of Father is God?
When Moses was speaking to God at one time, He asked God to reveal to him His glory or that which was most special about God. This is how God responded:
Exodus 34:5,6 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Notice what God showed Moses. He spoke of His character. This is the most glorious thing about God, His character. He is merciful, gracious, patient, overflowing with goodness and truthfulness. In the world we live in, these characteristics are very rare, but when we experience them in others, most of us are deeply appreciative. The apostle John summed up the character of God when He said:
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
God is a loving Father that cares deeply about all of His creation. So how vast is His creation? The Bible tells us that He is the Father of all heaven and earth.
Eph 3:14,15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.
The entire universe belongs to our heavenly Father and everyone in this universe is part of His family. We might be tempted to think that with so many people that God could not think about everyone and some would be forgotten, but listen carefully to what Jesus said about this.
Luke 12:6,7 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
God does not forget anyone. He knows everything about us and is deeply interested in our lives and what we are doing and what we are thinking. In fact He never stops thinking about us.
Psalms 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
He has special plans for us and dreams of what we can become.
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)
Every good thing that we have comes from him.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
The most wonderful display of how God feels about us is what He said at the Baptism of His only begotten Son - Jesus. This is what He said:
Matt 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
God loved His Son as a human being. He was very pleased with Him. The great part about this is that in recognising that Jesus is the Son of God, we can experience this same acceptance.
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
We will explore much more about the role of Jesus and why He came to earth and why we can and need to be accepted through Him. But the key point we need to stress here is that God is a loving and tender Father that cares deeply for us and is interested in every aspect of our life.