How Our Prayers Need to Be Childlike
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)
I learned something interesting about prayer a couple of weeks ago at church. Judah Smith was preaching and he said, (paraphrased) that with every example of Jesus praying in the Bible, Jesus started talking to God by saying Father or Abba. All except once. The one exception was when Jesus was dying on the cross and he cried out,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
This was the moment when he was taking on the sin of the world and purchasing access to the Father for you and I. I find that amazing. One again, I’m in awe of the love and grace that has been shown to us.
When we come to God in prayer we should follow the example of Jesus and call God, Father or Abba. When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, he started the prayer with, “Our Father…” (Mathew 6:9-13)
Abba is a Greek word that is more intimate than the word Father. It means ‘Daddy’. I haven’t used that word in a long time. I’ll admit it…it’s not a word I’m comfortable with.
Three words were used to describe some “grown up” prayers:
- Spiritual Exercises
Then he used three more words to describe “childlike” prayers:
“and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Yes, I’m more comfortable with the first set of words. It’s true. But if I want to continue to grow in my relationship with God, and become more like Jesus, I’m seeing that I need to step outside my comfort zone and become more childlike in the way I relate to God. And I don’t think it’s because God is just trying to make me uncomfortable. I think it’s because God wants us to experience the spiritual transformation that happens when we spend time in his presence, trusting completely that he cares, with humble, childlike faith.
As with any other heart change, we can’t do it on our own. We can ask God to let the Holy Spirit do his work.