Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pages from a preacher's prayer book (3)

Saying Abba, Father
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret;…Pray then in this way: Our Father… Matt 6: 6, 9.

Arguably the two most important words in the Lord’s Prayer are the first two. Nothing reveals the secret of Jesus' prayer life more than his relationship with his Father. To his first hearers it seemed blasphemy. An Aramaic child’s first word: Abba – Dada. To contemporary hearers it probably seems absurd. Who could dare to call the Creator of the universe by personal intimate name? To imagine that in the best of parenting we might catch glimpses of God qualities – both father and mother (“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13, Matthew 23:37).

One of the biggest problems in ministry is a lack of personal security. Preachers are sometimes driven by the need for affirmation and shattered by its absence. Too often there is little sense of knowing whom we have believed. Yet Jesus opens up the amazing possibility - “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1.12,13).

This belonging is a spiritual fact of life. However emotionally disengaged we might feel, however much under stress we are, however disobedient we’ve been- it remains true, every day. I am a child of God, born of God. I belong to God who is my heavenly Father. No wonder Jesus commands us to find a quiet space and trust with childlikeness, saying “Our Father”. To affirm this relationship changes the way I respond to everything else this day.

Prayer. Our Father, help me to say those two words slowly and deliciously, with a fresh openness to your love and a willingness to trust you with my life and my ministry. Forgive me my lack of trust that finds security in other people’s opinions and help me rest in your opinion of me, Father. Fill me with childlike belonging and trust. Amen.


Anonymous said...

We are fellow Skypers now, and this last post reminded me to mention it. I got to sit across the computer screen with my ABBA today, and it was great. My Daddy is a wonderful man who raised me in love. (Unfortunately, none of my family of origin are saved.)

I am looking forward to this new form of communication, because I can only believe that it will bring us closer and foster a greater connection with his grandchildren. The negative part is of course that I can no longer talk on the phone in a towel or get dressed at the same time.

It makes me wonder what it will be like to see God face to face in Heaven (if that is how it works)? This does add a huge amount of "exposure" to the communication to see someone's face and to KNOW that they see yours. The bible makes such a big issue about not seeing God the Father's face. We are clearly NOT ready to see God with our sinful eyes. We can call on him intimately, but we still live under the illusion that we can get dressed at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Laura, I was interested to see what you had to say about living with the illusion that we can get dressed as we call on God, our Father, our intimate daddy. Not to carry this too far, but it made me think. We actually need to reveal our nakedness to God, spiritually through confession, and ask him to clothe us in Christ's righteousness. While we need to trust our Father and his open armed love for us, we do need to remember his holiness demands that Christ clothe us in his perfection.