Some truths we have to “push” into our hearts – they must be massaged and worked in like oil into a baseball glove. One of those truths is our heavenly Father’s love for us. Without working to get this deeply, the truth of His love ends up being like water on a windshield. And when we do not know His love, we miss one of the sweetest aspects of prayer…and life.
Well, some years ago I came across a glorious exposition of the Father’s love by the great Puritan, John Owen, in His book, Communion With God. Since then, I’ve pulled some of his key thoughts on this together, and I’ve brought them out once or twice when I came to the “Our Father” portion of the Lord’s Prayer. These truths, grounded in the glorious gospel, are oil on the leather of my heart. Maybe they will soften yours up too…
Saints are to see God as full of love to them…This is the great truth of the gospel. Commonly, the Father, the first person in the Trinity, is seen as only full of wrath and anger against sin. Sinful men can have no other thoughts of God. But in the gospel, God is now revealed especially as love, as full of love to us. To bring home to us this great truth is the special work of the gospel (Titus 3:4)
Therefore, it is through the Lord Jesus that we see God the Father in His wonderful love:
By Jesus Christ also we see and experience and are led up to the Father’s love. If we, as believers, would meditate on this truth more and live in the light of it, there would be great spiritual growth in our walk with God.
And I would add to or clarify Mr. Owen – we would be drawn to prayer. But sadly, this is not how many Christians see God the Father.
Christians walk oftentimes with exceedingly troubled hearts, concerning the thoughts of the Father toward them. They are well persuaded of the Lord Christ and his goodwill; the difficulty lies in what is their acceptance with the Father—what is his heart toward them?…Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds.
But it need not be so. We can choose to live in the love of our Heavenly Father, and what a place to be…
All here is serene and quiet…This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal—God as a Father (John 1:18); that name which he declares to those who are given him out of the world (John 17:6). And this is that which he effectually leads us to by himself, as he is the only way of going to God as a Father (John 14:5–6); that is, as love: and by doing so, gives us the rest which he promises; for the love of the Father is the only rest of the soul.
This is the bent of the Scriptures, and the aim of more than one prayer of the Apostle Paul, that we would see the Father as full of love toward us. He prays for the Thessalonians: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (ESV)
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch…His treasure! – Stuart Townend