When we were saved, God became our Father. We were adopted as children of God. And as his children, God has desires for us, just like earthy fathers have desires for their children.
Our Father desires fellowship – 1 Jn 1:3-7 – our Father loves to spend time with his children and loves for his children to spend time with him. He assures us that fellowship with him provides us with fullness of joy. And fellowship with him provides us with his pure light in this dark world. And fellowship with him can be maintained without interruption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us.
Our Father desires separation – 2 Cor 6:14-18 – it is true that we have been adopted into the family of God. But it is likewise true that we still reside in the earth. And so to maintain close fellowship with the Lord, we must separate from the world. It’s like a husband forsaking all others to be devoted solely to his wife. Jas 4:4 and 1 Jn 2:15-17 show us that it is impossible to be friends of the world and in love with God at the same time. We must be totally devoted to him.
Our Father desires obedience – Phil 2:12-13 – after we are saved, God goes to work inside of us to will and to do of his good pleasure. But we must obey him so that what he is doing will work its way through us to the outside. God knows what is best for us and how to get the best out of us like a coach with elite athletes. But we must obey him for his work to succeed.
Our Father desires thanksgiving – Phil 4:6-7 – thanksgiving is the key to a peaceful life in Christ. People are so stressed out today, which is not only an indication that they are overwhelmed and distracted, but it is also an indication of a strained relationship with our Father. We need to be thankful [1 Thes 5:18, Eph 5:20, Heb 13:15]. Parents are delighted when their children regularly show sincere gratitude for what they do. I mentioned this to a group of young people one day and saw their hesitation when they tried to think of things for which they should be thankful. They could only think of a few things. Oh, when you become grateful, there are more things for which to thank God than you can mention in a day.
Our Father desires fruit – Jn 15:1, 7-9, 16 – Jesus is the vine. Our Father is the husbandman. And our Father desires fruit. There is the fruit of his word, the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of his righteousness, and the fruit of our good works. Our Father will do everything necessary to the branches on the vine to get them to bear this fruit. You may not like what he’s doing. But you will surely enjoy the fruit once you can bear it. According to this passage, your prayers should be directed to bearing more fruit for the glory of God.
Our Father desires glory – Matt 5:16, Phil 4:20 – he alone is worthy. However, it is the temptation of his children to accept some of this glory. There’s coming a time for that, when our bodies are glorified. But right now, all the glory goes to God [1 Cor 6:19-20; 10:31]. And, in fact, it should. We are much happier when he gets the glory.
Our Father desires unity – Jn 17:20-23 – I am thinking of my father right now. I remember him telling me what his father said to him and his two brothers, “If you ever need to have a conversation that might get heated, do it out by the pool. That way, if it gets too hot, you can jump in and cool off.” Our Father wants his kids to get along. Now, when you get all messed up on doctrine, there’s going to be nothing but fighting and disagreement. But when you have folks who are on the same page doctrinally, there shouldn’t be all this fussing and fighting. Do you realize that Jesus prayed for us to be one?
Conclusion: It is very helpful to know our Father’s desires, what his expectations are. They help us to recognize, when our fellowship with him is strained, that there’s probably trouble in one of these areas that we’ve discussed today. You’ve either let some sin drive a wedge between you and God, or you’ve gotten too close to the world, or you’re disobeying him as he’s working in your life, or you haven’t been grateful, or you have been resisting his efforts to bring forth more fruit in your life, or you’ve been accepting some of the glory due to him, or you’re on the outs with one of your brothers or sisters in Christ. All these things work together. Ultimately, our Father wants to be your principal desire in life. We are to love him with all our heart, soul and mind.