Praying to God Our Father
(Jesus said) “Pray then like this: 'Our Father who art in heaven...'" (Matthew 6:9).
Why does Jesus teach us to address God as, "Our Father" when we pray? Luther's Small Catechism answers, "With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father." Jesus teaches us to think of God as our Father so that we might pray with confidence believing that God loves and hears us.
See how Jesus tenderly and repeatedly invites us to think of God as our Father:
Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45). When we call on God in prayer we call on our heavenly Father who gives us both sunshine and rain. His blessings are abundant and free. He is kind in all His ways.
When Jesus commands us to be perfect, He says, "Be perfect because your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Our heavenly Father perfectly bestows love and kindness even to the wicked. For example, God our heavenly Father gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins. We do not deserve such a savior, but God has sent us one. As the Bible says, "But God shows His love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Therefore since our heavenly Father has treated us with such marvelous grace, how can we as His children not likewise show grace and mercy to others? Indeed Jesus commands us to love our enemies while reminding us of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.
When Jesus warns us against practicing our righteousness in order to be praised by people, He notes that if we do so then, "You will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1). Of course we cannot earn our salvation, for eternal life is the free gift of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). And yet while we cannot earn our salvation, which is a free gift in Jesus, we should believe, as the Bible says, "That He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). These rewards come from our heavenly Father. We receive some of these rewards here on earth and we will receive others in heaven. As the Bible says, "He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8).
Jesus teaches us to give and to pray in secret so that, "Your Father who sees in secret may reward you." (Matthew 6:4,6). And again Jesus says, “When you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:7-8). For more on this you may see Pastor Jarrod Hylden’s article at: https://www.servantspen.com/home/2018/3/7/pray-with-confidence-not-like-the-gentiles?rq=prayer
What does all this mean?
All of us have needs, fears, desires, hopes and dreams. When we pray we can bring these before our heavenly Father in confident trust. Our heavenly Father knows us. He knows what we need. We do not pray in order to tell God information He otherwise would not know. We do not pray to express concerns He would otherwise be unaware of. We do not pray to activate His promises or to coerce Him into action. We are not Jedi masters who must learn to use the force! Prayer is not rooted in magic or mysticism. But prayer flows from trusting hearts to our heavenly Father. And so we do pray! We pray trusting that our Father knows what is best. We pray knowing that He already knows our needs. We pray because our Father commands us to pray and Jesus teaches us to do so. When we pray God our Father hears us. May our Heavenly Father bless you as you call upon His name in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.