By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
I was ten years old when I lost my beloved father. As a California Highway Patrolmen who faced danger every time he put on the uniform and went to work, we always knew there was a possibility he wouldn’t come home. But I was sure my strong, tall, handsome daddy, who I was so proud to hear people say I looked just like, would always be there for us. Nothing could ever happen to him. I could depend on my father to cheer me through all my successes, hug me with his loving arms when I was sad, protect me from any harm, and someday walk me proudly down the aisle.
Until one early morning, I awoke to the sounds of people in our home, and I could hear my mother sobbing in the living room. I jumped out of bed and looked across the hall at their bedroom. The bed was empty, and I intuitively knew my daddy was gone. He worked the night shift and was always still in bed when we got up in the morning.
My grandfather told me that a man my father had apprehended driving the wrong way on the freeway shot daddy in the heart with his own gun. My father died instantly, and our life was changed forever. My mom became a thirty-two-year-old widow, and my younger sister and I were fatherless.
Many friends brought food and told us they would pray for the loss of my father, but the void left in our family seemed too big to ever be filled. My fragile, sickly, grief-stricken mother was now the head of the house, and I feared her tears would never stop and our little family wouldn’t ever recover.
But slowly, over the years, we three girls did have a somewhat normal family life. I know it was only through the power that came from God and those who said a prayer for the loss of a father, husband, and great man.
What Does the Bible Tell Us about God as Our Father?
The year after my father’s death, I was invited to a church youth camp where our pastor’s wife and a camp counselor sat on my cot, and I can still remember their words that day, “We know you’ve lost your earthly father, but would you like a Heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake you?” I didn’t have to think about it. I said a resounding “Yes” and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Out of our family tragedy, I was saved.
As I grew in my faith and studied the Bible in Sunday school, even as a young girl, I began to understand how God would now be my Father. I would never stop missing my earthly father. I’d always have an ache in my heart for the experiences we never had together, but over time, God became the Father I went to with all my sorrows and joys. Here are some of the verses that helped me understand this new Father-God relationship.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. John 14:16 NLT
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb. 13:5
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12 NLT
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 1 John 3:1 NLT
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all. Eph. 4:5-6 NLT
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Is. 64:8
And so I learned to pray to my heavenly Father . . .
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matt. 6:9-13
My mother blamed God for my father’s murder. She wailed that no just God would ever let this happen to a man who was only trying to protect his community and provide for his family. My mother’s heart became hardened and bitter and she spent the rest of her life spiritually, emotionally, and even physically ill. She was never able to receive the love and peace that I know God wanted to provide her.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5
Since the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” we know that fathers are to be the disciplinarian and head of the home. My mother had to take on that role. I’m grateful that even though she stopped going to church, she always dropped my sister and me off, or we took the church bus, and the church family embraced and mentored us.
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A Prayer for the Loss of a Father
Dear heavenly Father, you created earthly fathers to give life, love, and leadership to families and the loss of a father at any age leaves a gaping hole in the family. The patriarch is gone, and we pray for the wife or child struggling with how to fill the missing piece in their life. We know that some may try to drown their grief with food, alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity, while others may suffer deep depression and discouragement. Lord, we pray that you will fill their hurting hearts with your love and the consoling that only a relationship with you can provide.
Jesus, please bring people into their life who will listen with compassion, pray with sincerity, offer a shoulder to cry on, and allow them time and space to grieve their loss and deep anguish. Whether the loss is sudden or expected, there’s often regret for words left unsaid or words they wish they could take back. Lord, please help them feel your loving presence and wash over them a sense of peace in knowing they will see their loved one again if he was a believer.
When the pain is too deep and the grief too overwhelming, help them to seek help from someone who is trained in grief recovery. Lord, you tell us in Psalm 34:18 that you, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 147:3 NLT assures us that “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Please, Lord, fulfill your Word in the lives today of all who are feeling helpless and fatherless. Amen
A Prayer for the Father Who Lost His Life
Lord, only you know the spiritual heart of the father who lost his life. Our prayer is that he knew you as his heavenly Father, Lord, and Savior, and that he is with you right now in heaven. Please give his family peace that they will see him again someday. He leaves behind children whom he fathered and loved, some openly, others more privately, but you gave them life through him. In whatever way he lost his life, no matter how young or old, we pray he knew that you had a purpose and plan for him as a father. May his soul rest in peace. Amen
A Prayer for Those Who Lost Contact with Their Father
Our Father who art in heaven, there is great pain when a child—whether by choice or circumstances—loses communication with their earthly father or experiences an estrangement from him. Every Father’s Day reminds them that the man who you used to give them life is not in their life. Lord, you tell fathers not to anger their children, and yet we know in our humanness it happens. Or children can anger their father or choose to separate from their father like the prodigal son. But like the prodigal son, we pray the two will be united again while they still have time to reconcile with each other.
Pride often keeps the two apart, so we pray for that child who has abandoned fellowship with their father or the father who has disowned his own child will take the first step in restoring the relationship. So often, just hearing “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” is the beginning of healing. Please give one of them the strength, courage, and desire to try to mend the grievances of the past.
Father, when that’s not possible, put on the heart of the child who has lost contact to pray for their father and that you Lord would heal the emotional wounds and be the Father to the fatherless as you promise in your Word. Thank you, Lord, for loving us with a never-ending Father’s love for his children. Amen
An Epidemic of Fatherless Children
Sadly, today many children are growing up in fatherless homes. Maybe the children never even knew their birth father. Contrary to how God originally planned for the family unit, healthy male leadership is absent in far too many homes. That’s where the church must step in to provide consistent mentoring, guidance, and Christian leadership for children who need spiritual and practical life skills in navigating a world suffering from children lacking healthy role models in their life.
While we pray for those who have lost their fathers, we must put our prayers into action. We can learn from Job, who had problems of his own, but he looked out for the widows and the fatherless.
Whoever heard me spoke well of me,
and those who saw me commended me,
because I rescued the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to assist them.
The one who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing. Job 29:11-13
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Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com. Join Janet on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.