Coming to the Father as Family and Friend

Adapted from “A Brief Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer”
Written by Thomas Hooker.
Edited for thought and sense.

01-father-and-child-portraitRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

Now the motives whereby the soul may be furnished to call on God are three:

First, a cheerful readiness to come unto the Lord.

Why? We have an interest in him; he is our Father. We have the interest a child has in his father, which stirs him to come readily to his Father, he does not crave from a stranger, as when the child cried they carried him to his mother. If anything befalls the child, he says, ‘I will tell my father, and complain to my mother,’ and the like. So ask the child, who will provide for him? He says, my father. So it is here with our God. There is a fresh and living way that is marvelous, easy, and open. Whosoever seeks shall find, whosoever knocks it shall be opened to him. Therefore, whatever our injuries are, we should not complain to the world. No, pour forth your prayers to your Father, and he will be sure to hear you.

Secondly, as there should be a cheery readiness to come to the Lord so there should be a spiritual boldness to challenge what may be needful.

Among strangers we are strange, but among friends we are bold. We have a right and title to these things, and we may be bold with our own. Thus David challenges God. As you are faithful, deliver me, I am your servant, etc. If a servant wants food or raiment, he goes to his master. So says David, I am your servant, therefore give me understanding, that I may live. When they bragged of Paul and Apollos, he says, All is yours. This should comfort our hearts. Let us claim our portions. God is our Father and he will give it. Therefore be humbled in regard of your weakness and unworthiness, and confident in regard of his mercy, and walk comfortably in regard of the Lord. If I should see the child doubt in regard of my readiness, I should wonder. Care not, he says, it is your own, and he is our Father, and all that is in him is ours, Matthew 6:32.

Thirdly, this stirs up our hearts to have a fellow-feeling of our brethren’s misery in our prayers.

Therefore God cuts off all in-seekings of our own. Our, as if he should say, ‘Is there never a Joseph in prison, never a Daniel in the lions’ den, remember and pray for them. If one suffers, all suffer; we are all members of one body. We should mourn with those that mourn, and weep with them that weep, Isaiah 58. Put up a prayer for the remnant. Oh that our hearts would have a fellow-feeling of their trouble. Paul begs for prayers as for a penny. Ephesians 6:19, for me also; no, he entreats the Romans to wrestle for him in prayer.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Hooker (July 5, 1586 – July 7, 1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the Colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. He was known as an outstanding speaker and a leader of universal Christian suffrage.

Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,” cited by some as the world’s first written democratic constitution that established a representative government.

Hooker arrived in Boston and settled in Newtown (later renamed Cambridge), where he became the pastor of the First Parish Church. His parish became known as “Mr. Hooker’s Company”.

Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford, in 1636, Frederic Edwin Church, 1846

Voting in Massachusetts was limited to freemen, individuals who had been formally admitted to their church after a detailed interrogation of their religious views and experiences. Hooker disagreed with this limitation of suffrage, putting him at odds with the influential pastor John Cotton. Owing to his conflict with Cotton and discontented with the suppression of Puritan suffrage and at odds with the colony leadership, Hooker and the Rev. Samuel Stone led a group of about 100[9] who, in 1636, founded the settlement of Hartford, named for Stone’s place of birth: Hertford, in England.

On January 14, 1639, freemen from these three settlements ratified the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” in what John Fiske called “the first written constitution known to history that created a government. It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father. The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies.”

The Rev. Hooker died during an “epidemical sickness” in 1647, at the age of 61. The location of his grave is unknown, although he is believed to be buried in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground. Because there was no known portrait of him, the statue of him that stands nearby, in front of Hartford’s Old State House, was sculpted from the likenesses of his descendants. However, the city is not without a sense of humor regarding its origins. Each year, organizations and citizens of Hartford dress up in outrageous costumes to celebrate Hooker Day with the Hooker Day Parade. T-shirts sold in the Old State House proclaim “Hartford was founded by a Hooker.”