As I write this I’m driving — actually Lynn is driving, I don’t surf and drive — somewhere in Illinois, south of Chicago. As you read this — on Friday morning — I will be sitting at a breakfast table with a cup of coffee, talking to my dad. (I’ll make it long cup to accommodate you late risers.) I’ll be honest, I’m looking forward to being with my dad this Father’s Day. He’s made a mark on my life, like I hope I leave on my kid’s lives. If you would like a bit of the back story on my dad, I wrote this blog post last year. (10 Reasons I’m Glad My Dad is My Dad).
You may or may not know this…but it isn’t always easy being a dad. Sure we didn’t have to carry the child within us for 9 months. Sure we probably didn’t change as many dirty diapers — didn’t have to worry about breast feeding. Sure we might have gone to a handful fewer parent/teacher conferences. Sure we may not have always been the one to stay up late at night when they were sick. Okay, sometimes it may have been a little easy! :)
But here is the part that isn’t always easy…living up to the example of our Heavenly Father. Shortly after Sarah was born, I was leading an all-night prayer meeting at Bethel Seminary. As I led my portion of the evening, I shared this thought, “Having just had a child, I have a new appreciation for the thought that God is my father.”
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray he said, “Ok, when you pray…say Father.” Then he gave what is commonly called the Lord’s prayer. Much of the Lord’s prayer was not all that different from the standard Jewish prayers of the day. The requests are remarkable similar to the Jewish Kadesh Prayer… a Jewish liturgical prayer. ONE BIG DIFFERENCE.
It’s that word Father. FATHER… The translation of the Aramaic word Abba…Abba & Imma….Mommy & Daddy, PaPa. One New Testament scholar wrote this,
With the help of my assistants, I have examined the prayer literature of ancient Judaism…the result of this examination was, that in no place in this immense literature is this invocation of God as “Abba Father” to be found. Abba was an everyday word. It was a homely family-word. No Jew would have dared address God in this manner, yet Jesus did…(and) He empowers his disciples to speak with their heavenly Father in (the same) familiar and trusting way.
If we look at Jesus’ example we would have to believe that of all his names, Father is his favorite. In the Old Testament God was called Father…only 7x. Jesus refers to God as Father 17x in the Sermon on the Mount alone! The gospels record over 200x’s that Jesus called God Father. God is my Daddy — Abba Papa. Wow.
When Jesus lived…what he had to say about God blew away the routine categories of God-pictures. That truth shaped everything Jesus said and did. It shaped his prayer life. But then this this amazing thing happens, Jesus passes it on to us. Not only my Father, your Father. God is your Abba, Pappa, Daddy God.