Also, when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the street so that they may be seen by men. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
The man had helped in children’s ministry years before he had children of his own. It used to be that one could watch him do his work and not distinguish his relationship with one child from another. He could have been the father of all of them or the father of none of them. Then, he and his wife began having children of their own. When his little girls were old enough to join the class in which he volunteered, something became very obvious. There now was a distinction; now one could see whose children were his. It was not because he treated his girls differently from the others, but it was because his girls treated him differently than the other kids did. He was their father, and they had a unique desire to be close to him.
Before coming to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I had some pretty flawed ideas of who and what God is. Going to church for that first time as a young adult made me shiver. I was really afraid of who and what God might really be, and I could not see myself wanting to approach him. That closeness, that intimacy between a father and his child was not something I thought was available based on my image of God. Then, I came to learn that He indeed wants to be close to me. More than that, He wants me to desire to be close to him. He took the first step in reaching out and drawing me toward him, and then it was for me to want to continue on that course. As I have come to know my Father better and better, He has continued to develop in me that desire for intimacy with him.
There are many ways to distinguish those who are God’s children from those who are not. One of the clearest ways is to watch and see who runs to him. Yes, there are times when the children of God will act like Jonah and flee from his plan and his will. In those times we are not behaving as his children should behave. His grace and benevolence has been proven although it need not be, and our trust in the Father should cause us to seek closeness with him regardless of circumstances or the difficult call He might have for us. We fear him with reverence and the understanding that we right now could not gaze upon his full glory and live, but we still approach. Father, increase in us our desire for our very necessary intimate time with You.