Especially around Father’s Day each year, I am thankful for my dad and my three kids. I also remember “the Father from whom all fatherhood derives it’s name” (Ephesians 3:15). To appreciate God as your Father everyday is something we you can learn to do — even if your relationship with your father was painful for you.
A favorite topic I like to share in retreats and seminars is “Embracing Abba.” “Abba” is Hebrew for Papa and it’s the first word that a little Hebrew boy or girl says. It’s a wonderful, affectionate name for God and I love to use it in my prayers. To know that the Almighty God is our dear Papa is such a blessing!
On a recent “Embracing Abba” retreat I led, I guided everyone in a time of healing prayer, using Mark 10:13-16 which tells the story of Jesus receiving little children into his arms to bless them. Jesus not only loved these little ones, he fought for them, rebuking his disciples who tried to shoo them away because Jesus was busy.
The Gospels record a number of instances in which Jesus picked up children and held them, affirmed them, or blessed them in some way. Have you ever put yourself in one of these stories? This is one of the most important things you can do.
The Child in You Longs for Abba’s Love
You may have lost touch with it, but you have a child part of you inside. There’s a little and vulnerable part of you that longs for your Heavenly Father to lift you up in his arms with joy!
Have you brought this child in you to Jesus and his Abba? Does your heart cry out to God with affection and delight, “Abba! Papa!” We see in the Bible that Jesus prayed to Abba (Mark 14:36) and so did Paul (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).
There’s a void in you and in me that only Abba can fill. But we cling to people. We try to impress people. We rush around and strive to succeed. We worry. We accumulate more and more stuff. We seek new experiences. We escape into entertainments or alcohol. We hold onto old wounds, especially from our fathers.
O, my friends, Jesus shows us the Abba Father love of God that we yearn for! Nothing else will fill the void in you and in me.
During the time of extended silence and solitude on the retreat, I reminded myself of my need for my Heavenly Father. (When I lead a retreat I go on retreat too, particularly during the solitude time, because Jesus is the Retreat Leader and I’m just assisting him.) As I walked through the gardens on a beautiful spring day God gave me a delightful “Breath Prayer,” inspired by the Gospel stories of Jesus and the children and the Scriptures that teach us to pray to God as Abba.
The prayer that came to me to breathe in and out over and over was: “Jesus… Embrace me in Abba’s love.”
I breathed in deep with a smile: “Jesus…”
I breathed out, still smiling, “Embrace me in Abba’s love.”
That little prayer kept me in Abba’s arms for hours. I prayed about other things, but kept coming back to my yearning for my Abba.
Using Crayons to Pray
To help me get more in touch with the child inside of me I got out crayons and colored a picture of my longing to be embraced by Jesus and his Abba. As I colored I reflected on how my life would be different and how much more loving I’d be to others if I were really free to live as Abba’s child always.
I interceded for others as I colored too. One-by-one I inserted their names in my little prayer: “Jesus… embrace _______ in Abba’s love.”
Writing a Prayer Poem
In the time of solitude a prayer poem came to me: “Abba’s Child.” May God use it to help release more of the child in you to lift up your arms and pray: “Jesus… Embrace me in Abba’s love.”
I go back to Abba
He runs to me
As the breeze blows
I cry to Abba
He embraces me
As the rain stops
I belong to Abba
He smiles over me
As the sun shines
I look up to Abba
He holds my hand
As the flowers bloom
I play with Abba
He skips with me
As the birds sing
These verses from the Bible will help you to appreciate just how much The Father Loves You!