To Whom Do You Pray?

I like to listen to people when they pray.  I like to pay particular attention to how they address the Lord.  You can tell a lot about a person’s relationship with God by the way they address Him in prayer.


In listening to people pray, I hear a lot of people begin their prayer with “Dear God” (that always sounds to me like they are writing a letter).  Some will say “O God.”  A few “Dear Lord.”  Almost no one addresses God as “Father.”  I find that interesting.

Why Jesus Came

Part of the reason Jesus came was to bring us into a relationship with the Father.  Look at John 1:11 – 12,

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… ESV

Those who believed in Him were given the right to become God’s children, meaning, of course, that God would be their Father.  Did Jesus succeed in His mission?  According to 1st John 3:1 – 2 He did.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  ESV

So those of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus have become God’s children right here and right now.

How He Taught Us to Pray

Perhaps this is the reason Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 6:9).  He was well aware of the relationship He was bringing us into with God.  Jesus said whatever we asked the Father in His Name would be granted us (John 16:23).  He also said the day would come when He would not have to pray for us because the Father Himself was quite fond of us (John 16:26 – 27).  It appears to me that Jesus had every intention of us having our own relationship with the Father.

Why is This Important?

So what’s the big deal?  Why is it so important to address God as “Father” when we pray?  Let me suggest a few reasons:

  • Addressing Him a God gives the picture of Someone “out there somewhere.”  Addressing Him as Father pictures Someone who has drawn us near to Himself.
  • Addressing Him as God can cause Him to be pictured as Someone austere and aloof.  Addressing Him as Father pictures Him as Someone kind and attentive.
  • Addressing Him as God can cause Him to seem like Someone who may not be interested in our petitions.  Addressing Him as Father reveals Him as Someone kindly disposed to grant our requests.
  • Addressing Him as God may not help us to have faith.  Addressing Him as Father, on the other hand, can give our faith a real boost.

A Challenge

I would like to challenge you to try an experiment.  Instead of beginning your prayer with “Dear God,”  look up at the Lord and say, “Father,” just like the well beloved child you are.  I cannot help but believe it will change your praying significantly over the course of time.

I would also encourage your to download a copy of The Father’s Love Letter and read it every day for a couple of weeks.  Ask the Father to open His heart to you.  Let the Father draw you into a new and deeper relationship with Himself.  Your praying will permanently change.


7 thoughts on “To Whom Do You Pray?

  1. Interesting challenge.
    I’m going to try it.

    One reason people might not address God as Father may have to do with their relationship with their earthly fathers… I know at times, when I’ve said ‘Father’ to God, it’s been accompanied by an internal dialogue about fathers and soon prayer morphed into this mental separating of two images. It was distracting, and soon I was thinking about anything but God and the conversation I intended to have with Him.
    It was a simple solution to address Him as God.

    But that was a while ago.
    I’ll take you up on the challenge. I’m interested to find out if it does change my focus and create a more personal perception of my Father 🙂

    • You are so right, Kim. Many times our experience with our natural fathers has a profound affect on how we relate to our Heavenly Father. That’s why we need a revelation of His heart toward us.

      Let me know how your experiment goes. 🙂

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  5. I dunno . . . “Father”? I’m not sure I can do that. Maybe I’ll give “Abba” a go. I always called my father “dad” or “daddy,” but that kind of seems odd, too, to me. Although I suppose it shouldn’t.

    Anyway, great point. I think I usually start out , “Lord Jesus.” But you’re right. That’s not what He told us to do.

    • I’m amazed with how many struggle to call Him “Father.” However, even the Spirit He has placed within us causes us to cry out “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Please keep me posted on how “Abba” works for you.

      Thanks for sharing!

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