The world has pictured God as a distant deity who has little care for us and even less involvement in our lives. But that's not the God Peter, Moses and Paul knew—the God who spoke to them face to face.
The God we serve, worship and pray to is a loving, compassionate, and concerned Father. Paul called Him Abba Father: "Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father'" (Gal. 4:6, NIV).
Jesus tells us God's love for us is much greater than the love and care of an earthly parent: "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matt. 7:11).
For some of us, the idea of a good and perfect father is difficult to comprehend. We never saw godly parenthood modeled. I get that. Both my mother and my father were high school dropouts. My mother got pregnant with me when she was 16 or 17. I was born into poverty and lived in the Chicago projects, where drugs were part of the community. My father went to prison, and when he got out, I visited him on the weekends. He kept marijuana around his home and taught me how to smoke it when I was just a kid. The word father didn't exactly make me think of goodness and generosity.
But I'm here to tell you that you have a God, a heavenly Father, who's into you! He's so into you that He knows the very number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). He's so into you that He knows what you need, when you need it, before you need it. But because He desires to talk with us, He tells us to pray. He knows our relationship with Him is more important than our needs.
I think about the warning God sent through the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah, telling him to get his house in order because he wasn't going to recover from the festering boil on his skin; he was going to die. When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and started talking to God, reminding Him of their relationship.
"Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." (2 Kings 20:3).
God responded by telling Isaiah to "go back and tell Hezekiah ... 'I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you'" (2 Kings 20:5). God gave Hezekiah 15 more years on earth. Now that's an amazing relationship, right? And it's the same face-to-face, intimate relationship our God wants with us because He's that into us. He's so into us He even monitors our tears.
"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book" (Ps. 56:8, NLT).
God longs for a deep level of intimacy with you. Look where He wanted to be placed among the Israelites. When God told Moses to build the tent of meeting—the place of intimacy where Moses would go to talk to God—He said, "Set Me in the middle of the camp of the children of Israel." (See Num. 2:17.) He wanted to be set in the middle of the 12 tribes, like a Father surrounded by His children.
Believe it or not, we serve a God who knows us and wants us to know Him. I realize it may not seem like that when the world is shaking and the fires are raging around you. But you can be absolutely sure that God wants you to hear Him, and He wants to hear you. He wants you to know His Word, to know His promises—and to know His heart. In the book of Acts, Luke wrote:
"His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring'" (Acts 17:27-28, NLT).
I'm begging you to get that. I'm praying you understand that this same God (remember, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow) is your Father, just as Acts 17 tells us. He wants this kind of intimacy with you. He yearns to be smack-dab in the center of your life and heart. He wants you to truly see Him, to genuinely know Him, to honestly talk with Him. And He wants to spend time with you every day. He's that into you.
Excerpted from Chapter 1 of Just Pray by John Hannah (Charisma House, 2021).
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