When It Is Hard to Pray to Our Father

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Wading in the waves

Our Father who art in heaven …

Matthew 6:9

I appreciate receiving notes from many of you in response to these daily reflections. Recently, after reading my comments on the opening verse of The Lord’s Prayer, one reader confessed to being one of those who find references to God as “Father” as being difficult. It’s an important question and made me wish I had spent more time on it. So I hope you don’t mind if I hit the pause button and devote today’s reflection to that topic.

One of the most impactful things I’ve done in forty-three years of ministry is to use Robert Lewis’ “Men’s Fraternity” material as a springboard into a program we called “Men’s Life.” The goal was to explore manhood from a biblical perspective. Without question, the time and attention we devoted to “The Father-Wound” was the most profound. So many men have experienced difficult relationships with their father, or they believe themselves to have been inadequate fathers. Women raised in these family environments also carry the wounds.

I was blessed with a great and godly father, but I have learned to be sensitive to those who haven’t been blessed in that way, those for whom references to “father” stir up toxic feelings.

And yet, Jesus clearly teaches us to pray, “Our Father.”

  1. Jesus uses the word, “Abba.” Translated it means “daddy.” The word implies the most familiar and intimate of relationships. It is about warmth and tenderness. This way of intimately addressing God would have been unheard of in Jesus’ day.
  2. When Jesus teaches us to address God as “Father,” it is not about gender or sexuality, but rather about belonging to God, deeply trusting God, and being at home with God.
  3. When Jesus teaches us to refer to God as “our Father in Heaven,” he is also telling us that God is not confined to this world or to its limitations. God our Father is awesomely transcendent and has powers and resources that we cannot begin to fathom. He is disposed to use these powers for our good as one would expect a loving father to do.

My father’s name was Donald Jackson Peterson (I like to honor my father by saying his name). I grew up calling him, “Daddy,” but when my voice started to change, it felt strange addressing him in that way. Too tender, too intimate, not manly enough. I started calling him “Dad,” but just between you and me, in my heart, “Dad” was always just shorthand for “Daddy.”

We pray, “Our Father,” because Jesus taught us to pray that way. But more than that, in this world where fathers are rapidly disappearing, the memory of the one great Father who is warm and friendly, powerful and protective, wise and loving, creative and generous will live on in our prayers.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What kind of dad did you have? How has he influenced your life? What’s it like for you to address God as “Father”?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, people use so many names to address you. You are like a gemstone with countless facets reflecting the light of your countenance in so many brilliant ways. And yet we are taught to address you in the simplest and most familiar way—“Our Father in heaven.” Help me to truly and deeply believe that you are this to me today. Amen.


Borrowing and Lending

Is it okay for Christians (or Christian businesses) to borrow money? To encourage others to borrow money? To lend money? What does the Bible have to say about appropriate interest rates for loans and credit? Come join us at our virtual table for a discussion about Borrowing and Lending. It’s difficult to purchase a car or a home or an education without agreeing to pay installments on that commodity for many years into the future. Is this what God has in mind for us and for our resources, or are we overthinking things here? Are there practical steps we can take to avoid borrowing money, and does it matter if we’re borrowing money from a family member or from a financial institution? We welcome your stories, your thoughts, and your experiences, whether you’re a borrower or a lender. What have you learned about God, his great gift of redemption, and his work of restoration through the experiences of borrowing and lending the resources entrusted to you?

Featured image by Daniel Weber. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

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