Are you appreciating God as your Abba? Do you feel safe and encouraged in the love of your Heavenly Father? You may struggle to trust God as your Abba if you have some unhealed hurts from childhood, particularly your relationship (or lack of it) with your father. Through praying in Jesus’ name you can begin to experience more of God’s fatherly care with me right now!
God’s name Abba is one of Jesus’ best gifts to us. Abba is Hebrew for “Papa” and it’s the first word that a little Hebrew boy or girl says. Abba Father is 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!
A Gospel Meditation to Heal your Heart
On a recent “Embracing Abba” retreat I led I guided everyone in a time of healing prayer, using Mark 10:13-16. Mark shares with us the precious story of Jesus receiving little children into his arms to bless them. Jesus not only loved these little ones, also he fought for them, rebuking his disciples who tried to shoo them away because they thought Jesus was “too busy.”
Actually the disciples were the ones who were too busy and impatient. Jesus was always unhurried and ready to make time for people, especially children!
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!
You may have lost touch with it, but you have a child part of you. There’s a little and vulnerable part of you on the inside that longs for your Abba 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 God as Abba Father (Mark 14:36) and so did Paul (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).
There’s a void in you and 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 our void.
Breathe in Abba Father’s Love with 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 Father.
The prayer that came to me to breathe in and out over and over was:
“Jesus embraces me in Abba’s love… Selah.”
I breathed in deep with a smile: “Jesus embraces me in Abba’s love…”
I breathed out, still smiling, “Selah.”
(“Selah” is a prayer word used many times in the Psalms. It probably means, “Pause to reflect.”)
That little prayer kept me in Abba Father’s arms for hours. I prayed about other things, but kept coming back the yearning that I and the people I was interceding have for Abba.
Using Crayons to Pray — Yes, Crayons!
Sometimes we need to try new ways of praying. It helps us to refresh our relationship with God. It can help us to get unstuck and move closer to the Lord. On this retreat I prayed with crayons to help me get more in touch with the child inside of me. I colored a picture of my longing to be embraced by Jesus and his Abba. As I colored I reflected on how much more loved I’d feel 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 Abiding Prayer: “Jesus, embrace _______ in Abba’s love.”
Writing a Prayer Poem
On retreat I tried another creative, renewing prayer. During my solitude and silence I was blessed when a delightful prayer poem came to me: “Abba’s Child.” May God use this prayer of my heart to encourage the child in you to lift up your arms and pray: “Jesus embraces me in Abba’s love… Selah.”
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
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.”