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As darkness rises in the nations, we all need revelation of the Father heart of God in order to worship wholeheartedly, topple shame and stand victorious in this age. Let's examine a key teaching of Jesus for insights on how to encounter our Father in spirit and truth.
The disciples had asked Jesus how to pray. His answer brings us close, close to the God who loves us and wants to be near us. It brings us into the heart of our Father.
"Therefore pray in this manner: Our Father ..." (Matt. 6:9).
Let's not speed by these two words, forgetting their significance and power. If God truly is our Father, then this knowledge can transform how we live, pray and serve. And transformed people will bring good news to a lost, hurting and often fatherless world.
Jesus knew the Father's heart better than anyone, and He delighted to reveal it to the rest of the Father's sons and daughters.
Jesus taught about our Father, giving us many glimpses into His heart.
In Luke 15, we read that Jesus tells three parables, culminating in the story of the prodigal son.
While some may be tempted to skip ahead to that story (or think they know it already), all three parables demonstrate aspects of God's father heart.
The Lost Sheep
What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Then when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Likewise, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous men who need no repentance (Luke 15:4-7).
Our Father is actively searching for His lost sheep. This is good news, especially to religious types like the Pharisees (whom Jesus addressed), who were trying to earn God's approval by their works.
The Lost Coin
The next parable is similar. A woman loses one of the 10 silver coins that was possibly part of her necklace. She searches diligently until she finds it and calls her friends to celebrate because her necklace is complete again. "Likewise, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents," Jesus says (Luke 15:10).
There is an ache in God's heart for every one of His children to return to Him—even those who are lost and sinning—as we will see in the third parable.
The Lost Son
In a quite well-known story, the prodigal son demands his inheritance while his father is still alive, then wastes it on partying and loose living.
When the money runs out, he has to work and takes the lowest possible job for any Jew—feeding a Gentile's pigs. This would have shocked the average hearer more than the partying the young man did!
Hungry and desperate, the son decides to come home. He knows he's sinned and doesn't expect to be restored to his family, but is content to live as one of his father's servants.
"But while he was yet far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and ran and embraced his neck and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).
The father was watching for him. He ran (which was disgraceful for a man of stature) and kissed him—not worrying if his son still smelled like the pigpen.
What happens next is stunning. Not only does the father—who symbolizes God—not pay attention the son's desire to be a servant, he immediately restores his son's privileged place in the family (symbolized by clothing and a ring) and throws a lavish party, killing the fatted calf, which was reserved for special occasions.
A father—and our Father—rejoices in His children. No matter what we've done, He wants us to come to Him. He's merciful, kind and quick to forgive all who repent (Exodus 34:6–7).
But there's one more twist to the story: the older brother, who has been working hard for his father for years. He gets angry when he hears the celebration for his wayward younger brother.
The father pleads with him to come in and join the party.
He said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. But it was fitting to be merry and be glad, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Luke 15:31-32).
The story is left open-ended, perhaps a deliberate invitation to the religious Pharisees to join the celebration of those who have been forgiven of their many sins.
For the sinner and those stuck in religion, there's no escaping the Father's diligent pursuit of His children. Our Father is not content that His kids be far from Him. He wants them, He wants us, and He wants everyone, to know and come to Him.
As our Father's children, let's run to His arms—and give others the opportunity to do the same by showing compassion on others.
Then we will see healing in our lives, families and world, as the Lord turns "the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6).
If you're looking to encounter the Father with others who are hungry for more revelation, we invite you to an upcoming Immerse focusing on this, May 13–20 in Kansas City. Spend eight days experiencing theological teaching coupled with practical, hands-on training in the harp and bowl model all in a community of 24/7 corporate prayer.
In addition to the core curriculum, this program offers special breakout sessions for pastors and leaders who want to grow in shepherding well in these last days, giving "meat in due season" (Matthew 24:45, NKJV).
Participants will also learn the harp and bowl model of worship and intercession used at the International House of Prayer, making this program ideal for pastors, leaders, worship teams, prayer groups, and anyone who desires to start or strengthen a prayer ministry in their local church, home, or workplace. Learn more »
Are you seeking a greater revelation of the Father's heart?
A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam Wittenberg worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at the International House of Prayer Kansas City. Adam is also active in evangelism and has a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.
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