top of page

Our Father

Recently the Archbishop of York declared that the opening of the Lord’s prayer, ‘Our Father’ may be problematic for some. Understandably many people raised concerns that you could take the words of a prayer that has been prayed by the church since its birth and declare it a problem.

These words were given by Jesus Himself, who is the Archbishop to change the words of Jesus they cried. The context of these words make it even more striking. The disciples, who had watched Jesus frequently withdraw to pray and return to minister, realised that prayer was key to His ministry so they asked Him to teach them how they should pray. Jesus’ opening words, ‘Our Father,’ declared to them that they should approach God as a father.

This revolutionary relationship with God was the key to Jesus’ ministry and He was inviting the disciples to share with it. So you can see why it would be a problem to call these words a problem.

The Archbishop was right when he said that many would find the words hard to say. 1 in 3 children live without their father. Others grew up with a father who was distant or abusive. Of course the word father is going to hold stigma for them.

However, an absent or deficient father should not be a reason to avoid God as the Father. Instead it should be the reason to understand that God is the only perfect, loving, never leaving you, father. He calls himself a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows – that is those who are raising children without a father present (Psalm 68:5).

In a world where fatherhood (and manhood) are being undermined and scorned we the church should be proud of the family structures God instituted and his design for raising happy healthy children. No family is perfect, but family is better than other systems for most people. With a drive towards government overreach into families we should be proud to proclaim the value of fathers and thankful that God is the ultimate Father. For some this discovery will be a journey to healing for others a reflection of their experience in the home. Either way it is clear that Fathers do matter whatever our society says.

In many parts of the UK children living without their father are in the majority. There is a privilege in our nation – the two parent privilege. Those who grow up without a father are statistically more likely to suffer from issues of self esteem, eating disorders and mental health issues. They are more like to abuse drugs, get pregnant and be sexually promiscuous. They are more likely to be exploited, abused and involved in crime, leading to prison. Statistically they do worse in school, find it harder to make friends and have less life opportunities.

Of course there are many who will buck the trend of these statistics on both sides. Those raised by both parents who will go off the rails and those raised without any contact with their father who go on to be high achievers. But the statistics overwhelmingly shout the importance of fathers.

In a society where fatherhood has been gradually erased (it was in 2008 when laws were passed which meant there was no longer a legal requirement to consider the presence of a father to raise a child conceived through IVF) the solution is not to reflect the world’s trend. The solution is not erase the fatherhood of God but to promote it that people can allow God to be the father to the fatherless areas of their lives.

We have a wonderful opportunity to teach and show the father heart of God to a hurting generation, to model the unconditional love and the discipline of a loving father and to provide the stability of a father that many in this nation need.

So let’s acknowledge the pain many feel from the absence or loss of a father, but let us also not shrink back from declaring that God is our everlasting Father who will never let us down. How else will people be made whole without the Father’s love.

But before all that we have a great privilege to approach God, not just as the Lord of the universe, but as Our Father. When grab hold of this truth our orphan hearts are healed and we are in a place to help many others discover this too.

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:9-13, “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’


bottom of page