In His Name: Father
By Dot Bowen
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father…” Luke 11:1-2 (NIV)
There’s no sweeter sound than the first time you hear your child call you “Mommy.” I remember repeating “mommy, mommy, mommy” over and over to my children in hopes of hearing them call my name for the first time. As the have years gone by, I still respond to “Mom.” Even to this day, I can be in a crowd and hear someone call ”Mom” and turn around. When my children call me on the phone, I can tell just by the way they say “Mom” if they are happy or upset. I love that my children want to talk with me. I can’t help but wonder if this same excitement comes to the heart of God when He hears His children call Him by name.
Throughout the New Testament, we learn that Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pray. Jesus needed to talk with His Father who loved Him and understood Him more than anyone else. His disciples were interested in learning how to talk to God too, so on occasion, they would ask Jesus to teach them to pray. There’s no one who can teach like Jesus. And there’s no one who can pray like Jesus. He is our greatest example. One of the most shocking teachings of Jesus was when He instructed His disciples to address God as “Father.” It’s one thing for Jesus to call God “Father” (the religious leaders considered this blasphemy which led to His crucifixion), but it’s quite another thing for a common man to call God “Father.” Yet, this is exactly how Jesus teaches His followers to communicate to God.
The more I grow in my faith, the more I realize how I complicate prayer. I wonder if I’m saying the right words, praying with enough faith, or questioning if there is sin in my life. And then I realize that these are clues indicating that I’m not praying to my Father to communicate with Him, but rather praying to my Father to manipulate Him to do what I want Him to do. I’m not saying I shouldn’t have faith or sift my motives; I’m saying that God wants me to communicate with Him as a child communicates with her father.
The disciples were so curious about the prayer life of Jesus, but when Jesus prayed His most heartfelt prayer in Gethsemane, they were asleep. Had Peter, James, and John stayed awake during that dark night when Jesus was arrested, they would have heard the Son of Man cry out, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36, NIV). The disciples missed Jesus’ greatest teaching on prayer! There is no greater lesson than to hear Jesus cry, “Abba, Father,” and to understand that in this prayer Jesus drew His strength from His Father. When we recognize the price Jesus paid for us to call God “Father”—and what an amazing gift this is—our prayer life will become more precious to us.
Today, we can rest assured that if our hearts are breaking, our strength is weak, or we need to talk to someone, we can call upon Abba Father and know that He hears our prayers. “Abba” is the Aramaic word translated “father” and is used in the spirit of a tender, affectionate child in much the same way a child today would use the word “daddy.” I don’t know what kind of a relationship you have with your earthly father, but of this I am sure, we have a Heavenly Father who desires to have such an intimate relationship with us that He desires for us to call Him “Abba Father”, or “Daddy.”
Sweet friend, you have been given an inheritance to be called a child of God. He is your Creator, your Shepherd, your Provider, your Peace, and your Father. As a little girl, I dreamed of crawling into my earthly father’s lap and hearing him say the words, “I love you.” Although I never experienced this on Earth, I have often felt God offering me His lap and saying, “I love you!” during my prayer time. I experienced this when my heart was breaking, and I knew no one understood more about how I was feeling than my Heavenly Father. After many tears, I found myself saying, “Not my will, but Your will,” and placing all my worries and cares in the loving arms of my Heavenly Daddy! In these moments, He gave me His strength, which was greater than the answer I was seeking from Him through prayer. Life is hard. At times circumstances can overwhelm us. But we have a Heavenly Father whose strength we can feel just like a child feels the love and strength of her daddy.
Further Reading Matthew 6:6, Matthew 7:9-11, Galatians 4:6-7