“You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father.’”—MATT. 6:9.
SONG 135 Jehovah’s Warm Appeal: “Be Wise, My Son”
1. What was involved in approaching a king of Persia?
IMAGINE that you are living some 2,500 years ago in Persia. You want to speak to the king of the land about a matter, so you travel to the royal city of Shushan. You would not even think of approaching the monarch without first receiving his permission. To do otherwise could very well cost you your life!—Esther 4:11.
2. How can we feel about approaching Jehovah?
2 How thankful we are that Jehovah is not like that Persian king! Jehovah is vastly superior to any human ruler, and yet he welcomes us at any time. He wants us to feel free to approach him. For example, although Jehovah bears such lofty titles as Grand Creator, Almighty, and Sovereign Lord, we are invited to call on him using the familiar term “Father.” (Matt. 6:9) How touching that Jehovah wants us to view him in such a warm and intimate way!
3. Why can we call Jehovah “Father,” and what will this article discuss?
3 We can rightly call Jehovah “Father”—he is the Source of our life. (Ps. 36:9) Because he is our Father, we have a responsibility to obey him. When we do what he asks of us, we will enjoy marvelous blessings. (Heb. 12:9) Those blessings include everlasting life, whether in heaven or on earth. We also enjoy benefits now. This article will discuss how Jehovah acts as a loving Father now and why we can be sure that he will never abandon us in the future. But first, let us consider why we can be confident that our heavenly Father loves us dearly and cares for us.
JEHOVAH IS A LOVING AND CARING FATHER
4. Why do some find it difficult to view Jehovah as their Father?
4 Do you find it difficult to think of God as your Father? Some may feel small and insignificant in comparison to Jehovah. They doubt that Almighty God cares about them as individuals. Yet, our loving Father does not want us to feel that way. He gave us life and wants us to have a relationship with him. After stating this truth, the apostle Paul explained to his listeners in Athens that Jehovah “is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:24-29) God wants each one of us to go to him just as a child naturally goes to a loving and caring parent.
5. What do we learn from the experience of one Christian sister?
5 Others may find it hard to view Jehovah as their Father because their own human father showed them little or no love and affection. Consider the comments of one Christian sister. “My father was very abusive,” she says. “When I first began to study the Bible, it was difficult for me to relate to a heavenly Father. But after I came to know Jehovah, that all changed.” Do you have similar feelings? If so, be assured that you too can come to see Jehovah as the best possible Father.
6. According to Matthew 11:27, what is one way that Jehovah has helped us to view him as our loving Father?
6 One way that Jehovah has helped us to view him as our loving Father is by having Jesus’ words and actions recorded in the Bible. (Read Matthew 11:27.) Jesus so perfectly reflected his Father’s personality that he could say: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) Jesus often spoke about the role that Jehovah fulfills as a Father. In the four Gospels alone, Jesus used the term “Father” some 165 times in reference to Jehovah. Why did Jesus speak so much about Jehovah? One reason is that people might be convinced that Jehovah is a loving Father.—John 17:25, 26.
7. What do we learn about Jehovah from the way that he treated his Son?
7 Consider what we learn about Jehovah from the way that he treated his Son, Jesus. Jehovah always heard Jesus’ prayers. He not only heard Jesus’ prayers but also answered them. (John 11:41, 42) No matter what trials Jesus faced, he sensed his Father’s love and support.—Luke 22:42, 43.
8. In what ways did Jehovah provide for Jesus?
8 Jesus acknowledged that his Father was the Source and Sustainer of his life when he stated: “I live because of the Father.” (John 6:57) Jesus completely trusted in his Father, and Jehovah supplied his physical needs. Most important, Jehovah cared for Jesus spiritually.—Matt. 4:4.
9. How did Jehovah prove to be a loving and caring Father to Jesus?
9 As a loving Father, Jehovah made sure that Jesus knew he had his Father’s backing. (Matt. 26:53; John 8:16) While Jehovah did not shield Jesus from all injury, He helped him to endure trials. Jesus was assured that any harm he might suffer would be temporary. (Heb. 12:2) Jehovah proved that he cared for Jesus by listening to him, providing for him, training him, and supporting him. (John 5:20; 8:28) Let us now see how our heavenly Father cares for us in similar ways.
HOW OUR LOVING FATHER CARES FOR US
10. According to Psalm 66:19, 20, how does Jehovah show that he loves us?
10 Jehovah listens to our prayers. (Read Psalm 66:19, 20.) He does not want us to limit our prayers; he urges us to pray often. (1 Thess. 5:17) We can respectfully approach our God at any time, no matter where we are. He is never too busy to listen to us; he is always available and attentive. When we appreciate that Jehovah listens to our prayers, we are drawn to him. “I love Jehovah,” said the psalmist, “because he hears my voice.”—Ps. 116:1.
11. How does Jehovah respond to our prayers?
11 Our Father not only listens to our prayers but also answers them. The apostle John assures us: “No matter what we ask according to [God’s] will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, 15) Of course, Jehovah may not answer our prayers in the way that we expect. He knows what is best for us, so sometimes his answer is no or he wants us to wait.—2 Cor. 12:7-9.
12-13. In what ways does our heavenly Father provide for us?
12 Jehovah provides for us. He does what he requires all fathers to do. (1 Tim. 5:8) He cares for the material needs of his children. He does not want us to be anxious about our food, clothing, or shelter. (Matt. 6:32, 33; 7:11) As a loving parent, Jehovah has even arranged to satisfy all our future needs.
13 Most important, Jehovah provides for our spiritual needs. Through his Word, he has revealed the truth about himself, his purpose, the meaning of life, and the future. He showed us personal attention when we first learned the truth, using our parents or another teacher to help us come to know him. And we continue to receive kind assistance from loving congregation elders and other mature brothers and sisters. In addition, Jehovah instructs us through our congregation meetings, where we learn alongside our spiritual family. In these and other ways, Jehovah shows his fatherly interest in all of us.—Ps. 32:8.
14. Why does Jehovah train us, and how does he do so?
14 Jehovah trains us. Unlike Jesus, we are imperfect. So as part of our training, our loving Father disciplines us when necessary. His Word reminds us: “Those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.” (Heb. 12:6, 7) Jehovah disciplines us in many ways. For instance, something we read in his Word or hear at our meetings may correct us. Or perhaps the help we need comes from the elders. Regardless of the form it takes, Jehovah’s discipline is always motivated by love.—Jer. 30:11.
15. In what ways does Jehovah protect us?
15 Jehovah supports us through trials. Just as a caring human father supports his children during difficult times, our heavenly Father sustains us through trials. He uses his holy spirit to protect us from spiritual harm. (Luke 11:13) Jehovah also protects us emotionally. For example, he gives us a marvelous hope. That hope for the future helps us to endure difficulties. Consider this: No matter what bad things happen to us, our loving Father will undo any injury we suffer. Whatever trials we are facing, these are only temporary, but the blessings Jehovah gives are everlasting.—2 Cor. 4:16-18.
OUR FATHER WILL NEVER ABANDON US
16. What happened when Adam disobeyed his loving Father?
16 We see proof of Jehovah’s love for us in the way he responded to the problems that first arose within his earthly family. When Adam disobeyed his heavenly Father, he lost his place in Jehovah’s happy family, both for himself and for his descendants. (Rom. 5:12; 7:14) Jehovah, however, stepped in to help.
17. After Adam’s rebellion, what did Jehovah immediately do?
17 Jehovah punished Adam, but he did not leave Adam’s unborn offspring without hope. He immediately promised that obedient humans would be brought back into his family. (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 8:20, 21) Jehovah arranged for this on the basis of the ransom sacrifice of his beloved Son, Jesus. By giving his Son in our behalf, Jehovah proved how dearly he loves us.—John 3:16.
18. Why can we be sure that Jehovah wants us as his children, even if we have strayed from him?
18 Though we are imperfect, Jehovah wants us in his family, and he never considers us to be a burden. We may disappoint him or stray awhile, but Jehovah does not give up on us. Jesus illustrated the depth of Jehovah’s fatherly care with the story of the son who was lost. (Luke 15:11-32) The father in that illustration never stopped hoping that his son would return. When the son made his way home, the father eagerly welcomed him back. If we have strayed from Jehovah but are repentant, we can be sure that our loving Father is ready and willing to welcome us back.
19. How will Jehovah repair the damage caused by Adam?
19 Our Father will repair all the damage caused by Adam. After Adam’s rebellion, Jehovah purposed to adopt 144,000 individuals from among mankind who will serve as kings and priests in heaven with his Son. Jesus and those associate rulers will help obedient humans to come to perfection in the new world. After they pass a final test of obedience, God will grant them everlasting life. Our Father will then have the satisfaction of seeing the earth filled with his perfect sons and daughters. What a glorious time that will be!
20. In what ways has Jehovah shown that he loves us dearly, and what will the next article discuss?
20 Jehovah has shown that he loves us dearly. He is the ideal Father. He hears our prayers and provides what we need, both materially and spiritually. He trains and supports us. He also has wonderful blessings in store for us. It warms our heart to know that our Father loves and cares for us! Our next article will discuss ways that we, as his children, can respond to his love.
SONG 108 God’s Loyal Love
We often think of Jehovah as our Creator and Sovereign Ruler. But we have good reasons for viewing him as a loving and caring Father. This article will consider those reasons. We will also learn why we can be sure that Jehovah will never abandon us.
PICTURE DESCRIPTIONS: Each of the four scenes depicts a father with his child: a father listening attentively to his son, a father providing for his daughter’s needs, a father giving training to his son, and a father consoling his son. The drawing of the hand of Jehovah behind the four scenes reminds us that Jehovah cares for us in similar ways.