Abba! Father!

Written by Drew on February 24th, 2008

Because we are adopted children of God, Paul says we are able to cry out to God, saying, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). This interesting manner of addressing God is a construction from two languages, the first one Aramaic, the second Greek, each meaning “Father.” It is hard to translate the expression into English, although Phillips comes close with “Father, dear Father.”

Now that we have received the spirit of adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, we can approach God in prayer with the same confident, childlike manner in which a small child speaks to his father.

This intimate style of addressing God in prayer does not appear until Christ.

  • King Hezekiah, who was healed of a fatal disease and given fifteen more years of life, prayed, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart…” (2 Kgs. 20:3).
  • Ezra the scribe, a man who set his heart to study the Law, to do it, and to teach it, prayed, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God…” (Ezra 9:6).
  • Daniel, who would rather go to the lions’ den than live without his daily prayer routine, petitioned God saying, “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act” (Dan. 9:19).
  • David, a man after God’s own heart, did not address the Lord as Father: “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” (2 Sam. 7:18)
  • Elijah defeated 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel with prayer, but he did not call God his Father: “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant…” (2 Kgs. 18:36).

Abraham was the friend of God, but he did not pray to him as a father. Moses spoke with the Lord face to face, but he did not call him Father.

Jesus brought us closer to God. And so he instructed us, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name'” (Mt. 6:9). Later, in that same sermon, he said,

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mt. 7:7-11)

It has been my experience that Christians prefer the titles “God” and “Lord” to “Father” in their public prayers. Perhaps more of us need to cultivate a deeper relationship with our Master–not just a reverence for the one who created us, but a love for the one who saved us by sending his only begotten Son and our brother, Jesus Christ.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Kathy says:

    Good point!

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