Sunday, June 20, 2010

He's My Abba

by Niki Turner

Many of us have strained, difficult, or estranged relationships with our earthly fathers that taint our perception of God as our Father in heaven. But I don't want today's post to be about our earthly fathers, or the earthly fathers of our children and grandchildren, good, bad, or neutral. For just a few moments, I want you to turn all your attention to your heavenly Father.

We're so casual with the term these days it's easy to forget what a shocker it was to the Jews when Jesus called upon Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as his Father, and ours. In Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God, made members of His household. He IS our Father, and we are his children. 
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God," Romans 5:15-16
God is the perfect daddy. Whatever you imagine as the ideal, perfect father, God fulfills your dream plus a whole lot more. He's perfect, and in His eyes, through the blood of Jesus, so are you.

For a long time my mental image of God was of an old man, seated on a throne with white hair and a stern expression. He seemed remote and unapproachable, in spite of the fact the Word says we can come boldly to Him, like little children.

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

One day in my prayer time, I cried out to God to heal some hurts, some wounds in my heart I knew no one else could repair. As I prayed, I found myself calling upon Him as Papa God. Strange. I never called my own father "papa." Dad, Daddy, Father... never Papa.

Jesus called God Abba when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Abba is not just a '70s band, it's a Hebrew term of endearment for a father (like our daddy or papa, or if you are a Little House on the Prairie fan, Pa). It was an intimate term reserved for those who knew their father personally and knew they were loved in return.

From that day on, God has been my Papa God in my personal prayer time. The term creates a difference for me mentally and emotionally between my earthly Dad and my heavenly Father. I can love, honor, and respect my earthly father for all he has done in my life, without confusing the role God my Father in heaven holds. That simple term of endearment changed my prayer life, and my relationship with God, for the better. This Father's Day, I offer my Papa God my highest praise and thanksgiving!

Do you call on Him as Father? Abba? Daddy? Papa?



  1. What a beautiful post this morning, Niki. I think it's a beautiful idea to call our Father God, Papa.

    I read this earlier and I've been thinking of the ways prayers vary.
    When I am praying for someone else, I talk to Father God. When I'm burdened, then it's my friend Jesus listening to me go on and on about what's on my mind. When I'm writing or dealing with others it's the Spirit I'm leaning on to give me guidance.
    I guess this could sound rather strange to some people... maybe not to someone who prays to Papa.

  2. Deb - I don't think that's strange at all. In fact, that may be one of the clearest explanations of the way we relate to a triune God I've heard. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Beautiful post, Niki! I've had a rocky road with earthly fathers, so it took me awhile to see God as someone who really cares about me. I think I pray to him mostly as Father, but tend to have a running dialogue with him throughout the day. Whenever something comes to mind, I send it up.

    I used to know a guy who started out every prayer with, "Hi Dad." That's how he saw God. It was cool, but I've never been able to be that... familiar... in my own prayer life.

  4. Hi Niki,

    What a wonderful reflection for Father's Day. I admit to calling the Almighty "Father God" when I pray. This feels as personal to me as 'Abba' or even 'Papa' (which I love, by the way :-) "Father God", to me, is both intimate and powerful. That's our amazing God! May He bless you richly this week.

  5. "Abba is not just a '70s band..." LOL

    I like to imagine the veil being torn down and me, as a little girl, running into Abba's lap and that contented sigh little children have when they are embraced by their daddy.

  6. Beautiful post, Niki. Thanks so much. It is an astonishing thing that God loves us so much that He wants us to know Him like that, that He wants us to know Him as Father. Since coming to Christ there have been many times I've thrown myself into His arms like a child with her daddy.

    (I confess that the post's title got me thinking of ABBA the band, and "Waterloo" has been in my head since I saw it on the dashboard!)

  7. LOL. I'm tempted to go look up the band and see how they came up with their name!

    Bex- perfect! Safe in His arms. Ahhhh.

    Dina- merci beaucoups!

    Gwen- I find I pray to Him as Father God when I'm praying in a more public setting, like a Bible study, or when I have a very serious petition to bring to the throne.

    Jen- One of my very best friends used to beat herself up because her prayer life was much like yours, a continual running dialogue. And I, who had my little prayer time and notebook and Chapstick all laid out in a tidy box, was SO jealous of the easy communication she had with God throughout the day. Being able to pray that way, always mindful of His presence in your life, signifies you DO have that kind of intimacy with Him, no matter how you address Him!

    Blessings, all!

  8. Hi Niki -

    Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father." Everything in Scripture that Jesus did paints a picture for me of God's love and character. How could I not love Him?

    Susan :)

  9. Wow, Niki, I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the new insight. You've made this a very special Father's Day for me :+}

  10. My husband did a sermon illustration once where he called our son to him. Ethan (the little ham) took off running and ran right up and daddy swung him up in his arms. That was the whole thing. But people had tears in their eyes as the envisioned the way they wanted to respond to God. But a lot of them thought that they couldn't do that anymore. They approach him with head hanging, eyes downcast.

    Live so that you can run into his arms. No hindrance. No regrets!

  11. Thank you, Niki,

    Like Jen I have "father issues." But I'm at the point now that I just pray to, "Daddy God," or "Jesus," or "Lord."

    I really like to think of myself as one of those little children sitting near Jesus in the pictures I remember while growing up as a kid.

    "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16b)

    I felt for years that I was trying to reach Jesus, but others kept getting in the way or I got in my own way. In the verse above I have this image of Jesus clearing everyone out of my way so that I could reach him.

    During a difficult time last year a friend gave me a picture in black and white of Jesus with a woman just resting her head on his shoulder. It helped me feel like I could rest in Jesus just like the little ones.

  12. I'm tempted to go look up the band and see how they came up with their name!
    Contextual Ad Network India

  13. I've been really blessed by what you are all sharing (except by the person trying to sell watches by spamming us!)

    The idea of Jesus clearing a path for us or grabbing us up in His arms...letting me rest my head on his shoulder. Beautiful, beautiful images!

    thanks everyone

  14. Ooh! Someone sent me some pen and ink drawings of Jesus with little children a few years ago. They were so precious I saved them. I'll have to share them with ya'll.

    Susan - We must be right on the same track... I taught on that very verse yesterday morning!

    Jill - Love that visual! Someone asked once, "If Jesus walked into the room right now, how would you respond?" All I could think of was throwing my arms around Him and holding on tight!

    Lisa - I'm stealing that last line in your comment. That's GOOD!

    Jen - : )

    Deb - Did you actually click on that link?


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