Heavenly “Papa” and Earthly Dads


(This is part of an ongoing series of blogs on prayer in Whole Life Worship that began on May 15, 2013)

Last week I received this comment from one of our Whole Life Worship blog readers, Janice Garrison. Some of you know that Janice has an excellent devotional blog called “Gathering Rubies,” where she gives wonderful real life applications from God’s Word (gatheringrubies.com). This comment, although originally a response to my blog on “The Jesus Prayer” (5/15), ties in with yesterday’s blog on “Our Father.”

Doug, Thank you so much for sharing your article on “Jesus Prayer” I relate to this way of praying completely. I used to beat myself up for my over my prayer life. I never felt like it was what God wanted and felt like “I never got prayer right.”

 Several years ago I read “The Shack”. It was so different from anything I had read before. One thing that touched me was how his wife referred to God as ‘Papa’.  To me that represented such a loving, trusting and honest relationship. I grew up being abused by my father and had such difficulty approaching God as ‘Father’. For a long while I prayed to God as Papa, it felt so good and so safe. Eventually (perhaps Satan was whispering in my ear) I began to fear I wasn’t showing enough respect by calling him Papa. Now I just call him ‘God’ or Abba’. As I reflect, I doubt he would mind ‘Papa’ because he knows my heart, and that’s what he wants from us; our heart, our humility and our desire to do His will.

Side note—-My father passed away in 1978, sadly I had not matured enough spiritually before his death to forgive him, but was able to a few years later. I can honestly say I completely forgave him. That in itself was life changing for me, but I digress.

While out walking each morning I spend most of the 40-45 minutes just talking to God. It’s such an amazing time. Like you, I believe that prayer is part of our “whole life worship”. As you wrote, it’s “being present with God.” I too converse with God in the same language I speak with my friends. Just me being me and letting God be God.  It’s where I always feel the safest and where I can slip away to, any time, any place.

Thank you, Janice!

Many of us struggle in addressing God as Father (much less as “Abba,” “Papa,” or “Daddy”) because of our earthly dads were either abusive, absent or distant. But Janice’s testimony reminds us of how the greatness of God’s love can overcome and heal the hurts and pains that enslave our hearts and minds. I’m thankful for the ways God’s Spirit moves people to imagine and create ways for us to connect with the Father’s love (like “The Shack”). It affirms the nature of God’s amazing “Father” love, which goes even further than we can describe or imagine. It is a love that transforms us and the way we can love others – even those who have done what seems like the “unforgiveable” to us. It then opens the way of freedom in relationship with God, which gives depth of understanding of both God and ourselves.

How has the love of “Papa” transformed the way you look at God and others?

Are there barriers that the enemy has constructed to separate you from the Father’s love?

2 thoughts on “Heavenly “Papa” and Earthly Dads

  1. Doug,

    Thank you again for starting the Whole Life Worship Blog. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts each day. I am always encouraged and challenged to walk closer to God each day. I have shared your link with many and will continue to do so. I pray God will refresh your spirit daily that you may continue in this good work of declaring God and declaring the true joy of Whole Life Worship.

    Thank you too for your kind words and “shout out” of my blog.

    (For anyone new to Doug’s site, I strongly encourage you to begin with his January posts and read each one. You will most definitely be edified).

    Many blessing to you my friend,

  2. Janice described it so well. Thanks for sharing her message with us, Doug. It was encouraging for me to listen to both of you. Your words gave some definition to that which seemed ambiguous.

    You asked us to share with you how the love of “Papa” transformed the way we look at God and others. Experiencing the friendship of Christ changed everything for me by way of transforming my entire heart, but later, grasping the love of “Papa,” transformed my emotions as if satisfying a great hunger within. It opened the door to my heart to receive a deeper type of love which I had held back for so long. It gave me greater understanding towards others teaching me to desire to love those who have done unlovable things. Papa showed me how to see the person behind the circumstance. Papa showed me how to pray lovingly for those who are unloving.

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