Calling God “Father” in Times of Anguish

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Luke 22:42

In our last two reflections, 11/7 and 11/8, we considered the agony with which Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion. Today, we begin to focus on the substance of his prayer.

Jesus begins by addressing God simply as “Father,” suggesting deep intimacy and love, as well as respect. The Aramaic word Jesus used in his prayer, Abba, could mean “Daddy” or “Papa” as well as a more respectful “Father.” In his moment of anguish, Jesus knew that he could bare his heart to his Father in heaven. He was sure that his Father would listen to him and have compassion upon him.

Given the fact that Jews in the time of Jesus and before did not speak to the Lord this way, it is stunning to hear “Father” on the lips of Jesus. But, we might chalk this up to an implication of his unique identity as the Son of God. So, in some ways, it is even more surprising that Jesus invites us to speak to God as our Father. In Luke, for example, Jesus says to his disciples, “This is how you should pray: ‘Father, may your name be kept holy... (11:2).' "

Sometimes, when we are experiencing unbearable pain or soul-wrenching sadness, we have a hard time calling out to God, let alone addressing him as Father. God seems distant, uncaring, uninvolved. These feelings are very real and very common. I have certainly felt them. Yet, the example of Jesus encourages us to continue to speak openly to our Heavenly Father, bearing our souls to him. Even though we cannot be sure how he will act in response to our prayers, we can know that he is there for us, that his love for us can never be broken.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever speak to God as Father? Why or why not? In your times of anguish, are you able to keep on praying? Do you believe that God is your loving Father, even when it’s hard to sense his love?

PRAYER: Father, how wonderful to be able to address you in this way. How I thank you, both for the example of Jesus, and for the specific invitation to address you with a term of intimacy and familial love.

Help me, Father, especially in times of anguish, to keep on calling out to you. May I have confidence in your love for me. May I keep the channel of communication between us open.

I pray today for those who have a hard time thinking of you as Father because of their experiences of their earthly fathers. For some, Lord, the word “father” is laden with pain. I ask that you make your love for them tangible and that you heal their emotional wounds so that they might feel free to experience your fatherly love and to speak to you as Father. Amen.