The first reason we call God Father is because he is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3). The second reason is that he is the Father of all believers. Jesus had a unique relationship with God, but we can have a relationship with him too, although in a different way.
That difference can be expressed as the difference between a natural-born and an adopted child: Jesus is God’s natural Son, but we are God’s adopted sons and daughters. As a natural Son, Jesus shares the Father’s DNA. He is divine by nature. We, on the other hand, do not share the Father’s DNA—we are not divine—but he invites us to enter a relationship with him, a relationship of his choosing.
Please do not stretch this analogy too far. It is only a metaphor. God does not actually have DNA. But by the same token, do not ignore the analogy’s power! It is rooted in the biblical language of salvation. Consider Ephesians 1:5, “In love, [God] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”
If you think about it, the adoption analogy is a vivid picture of the gospel. Because of sin, we are orphans. Precisely because we are orphans, however, God has no parental duties toward us. We are someone else’s children, someone else’s problem. But chooses to adopt us anyway. It is his “pleasure and will” to do so. Like all adoptions, the cost to the would-be parent is exorbitant. We become God’s sons and daughters “through Jesus Christ,” that is, by means of his death and resurrection. But God is willing to pay the cost because he loves us.
How does our adoptive Father treat us? Are we merely wards of the state of heaven? Are we second-class members of God’s household? Are we like Cinderella—begrudged by the natural-born children of a heavenly Stepmother and made to do slavish tasks? No! No! No! Listen to Galatians 4:4–7: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
What difference does this change in status from slavery to sonship make for our prayer life? Listen to Romans 8:15–17a: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” As God’s children and heirs, we can joyfully ask him for anything we need. He chose to love us in the first place. Will he not also care for us on an ongoing basis?
So, let us pray to God, the Father of all believers!