How Have You Learned the Father?

man laughing

How have you learned the Father?

This is one of the most central questions to our spiritual formation. It’s a question posted by George MacDonald as he unpacks Sonship in Unspoken Sermons. It’s a question that has stopped me in my tracks.

If we were to dive deeply into this question, become fully aware of our operating beliefs and then consider setting them aside in order to relearn the Father as he truly is, most every other struggle would be wiped away…

Ask this question: How have you learned the Father? Search your heart until you know that you know that you know how you have learned him. Then lay down all who you have learned him to be and ask him to come to you as his son and reveal himself as he truly is.

More and more, I find myself drawn to men who have learned the Father as he truly is. I’m devouring books from Brennan Manning and George MacDonald. I can’t get enough time with brothers like Jonathan David Helser and Matt Toth. Men who know the Father as he truly is are strong, good, and filled with joy to overflowing.

Dallas Willard defines Christianity as the process of more of me belonging to more of God. This is my prayer: Oh, my Father, Papa, come! Come, that more of me might belong to more of you…

Here’s an an example of one place I’ve been relearning the Father:

Will Reagan Live at the Banks House. I’ve been cranking up the worship music and soaking, staying, receiving, and meditating. I hold the picture of the parable of the lost son(s) on my heart. I see the older brother far away trying to earn his father’s love only to destroy his own soul in the process. I see the younger brother far off with the pigs…tired, weary, desperate…I see me in both of them…then I see the younger son as he realizes his poverty and his need. I feel his heart turn back to the father and move. Move toward his father and his home.

I then see the father on the porch of his house as he catches the first glimpse of his lost son the horizon, making his way home. I see the tears of joy course down his ancient, weather-worn cheeks. I hear him whistle and call out to his men, “Kill the fattened calf! Start the music! We are going to celebrate!” Then I see him run, almost awkwardly, as he vaults himself down more steps than he should at his age, sandals flailing, robe swinging back in the wind. Then youth is returning to the father. His gait is that of a young, strong man. He is ageless. And he’s running toward me. Unencumbered. Without reservation. Overcome with joy.

I’m filled with excuses, regrets, explanations, but somehow the tears pour down my face, my weary soul more deeply responsive than all my rational thinking, and it’s all washed away. I move toward him but can’t outpace his pursuit of me. He reaches me, his face luminous with affection…his own tears of joy. He picks me up and spins me around like I’m a child all over again. It feels new and familiar all at the same time. I am home.

Father, I have learned you wrong. It would have been better to not know you than to have learned you wrong. I want to relearn you. Who are you? What is your heart? What is your way? What is your way with me? What is the love language you have between us? Father, Daddy, this is all frontier. But I choose this day to give more of me to more of you. I choose to stay and stay and stay again until I have received your heart for your wandering son.

Believe he is coming.

Believe he is near.

Choose him. Find him. Search for him. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

The disciples were desperate with ache and longing to have the LIFE they saw in Jesus. What was the Source of this life they experienced in him? They had to know.

They turned to him in desperation and hope and asked in all sincerity, “Teach us. Teach us how to pray.”  In other words, “Jesus, we want your LIFE. We want what we see in you.”

And so Jesus begins, and in his first word, every other need is encompassed.


I want that. I want that for me. I want that for you. “Father, Abba, Daddy-God, Papa…”

Worship. Find songs anointed to bring the heart of the true Father. Music like that on the album Will Reagan Live at the Banks House. Like Mud Song and How He loves Us or Pete Ohlin’s Majestic Rain, an anointed instrumental album that will invite your heart to soar with the Father.

Sit at the feet of men who have tasted the Father’s love. Read Brennan Manning. Read George MacDonald. Read John’s Fathered by God. God willing, maybe even some of my teaching on Sonship might give you a nugget or two.

It is rare and remarkable to receive the Father through a worship leader who has yielded to him and made their heart available for his lavish Goodness to flow. Find these people. Receive from them. Do life with them. Karla is one of them. Adam Paulson, leading Worship at Toth Ministries, is one of them.

This anointed impromptu session by Jonathan David Helser and his wife, one I came across just a week ago through a friend, has been so core in bringing the Father to my heart.

Pause. Be still. Open wide your heart.

Risk casting off the shame, the fear, the doubt.

Risk receiving.

He is jealous for you.

He is coming.

For you.

Receive.  Make room. Make way…