How to Address God in Prayer

I’m continuing to read and enjoy Herman J. Selderhuis’ Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms.  In a section on “Prayer as Covenant Communication,” Selderhuis remarks that Calvin “describes the contact between both partners of the covenant as ‘familiariter,’ a term which suggests a child speaking with his father.  This contact, though, is most threatened when prayer is neglected.  The remedy for this is to regularly address God in prayer as ‘my God.’” (219)

In a footnote, Selderhuis refers to Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 5:2.  Unfortunately, the most common edition of Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms (published by Baker Book House and widely available) does not give a satisfactory translation from the Latin.  I have a .pdf of an earlier English translation (by Arthur Golding), but this page is not very legible.  So, this is my idiomatic translation from the Latin:

Furthermore, if we don’t feel like praying or our devotion to God is under swift attack, we must pay attention to these ox-goads which will prick us.  Just as the Psalmist called God “my king and my God,” and so sharply incited himself to better hope, we ought to learn to apply these titles in a similar way.  In so doing, we render God to be family with us.

Calvin makes an excellent point here.  This is exactly why the Lord Jesus taught us to address God as “Our Father.”  We should make it our habit to address God in family terms.  There is nothing wrong or sinful about calling him “Lord” (the Bible does that too, on many occasions).  But to consistently and regularly address him as your God and your Father is beautiful and serves to undergird the nature of our relationship with him.

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: