Friday, 9 March 2012

How do you begin your prayers?

The last picture taken of my Grandfather before he died.

Our families have a lasting impact on us.  It is not uncommon for people’s fondest memories to be of their childhood and their family.

For various reasons not everyone has a happy family life.  Fighting, arguments and even abuse can leave lasting wounds for children to overcome. 

For some children, when their parents fail them, their grandparents step in and show them the love and care their parents either could not or would not give them. 

Our relationship with our father’s can and does influence the way we view God and relate and pray to him.  I know a lady who was physically and sexually, abused by her father, over several years.  She just can not, under any circumstances bring herself to think of God as father, she can not address her prayers to God as Heavenly Father.  When she prays, she starts her prayers with, ”God in heaven”.  I understand why she does this, but I think it is unfortunate, because it leaves God as remote, and impersonal.  God is so much more than a remote impersonal force.  Jesus shocked the religious leaders of his day by inviting his friends to pray to God as Abba.

Abba is an Aramaic word, the language that Jesus grew up with, it means father, or more correctly…Daddy… it implies all the trust, love and security and expectation that a child would have when talking to their own father.

I used to work at a Church in King’s Cross in Sydney, a district that many of Sydney’s Street people and children run away too.   I met a young homeless boy who started attending the coffee shop we ran, I prayed with him one night, after which he said a prayer of his own, and he started his prayer,

“Ahh, Lad”…the first sound was a deep sigh…”ahhhh Lad”.

Then he prayed quite a conventional prayer.   Later I had to ask him about the way he started his prayer.  He told me that was how he always addressed God.  He then told me why.  He had also had an abusive father, who eventually abandoning him.  His aged Grandparents took him in, loved him, and cared for him till their own death. 

His fondest memories where of his Grandfather and his patience with him.  As young children do, he asked endless question of his grandfather, and his loving Grandfather always answered in the same way…”ahhhh lad”…and then answer his question.  Ahhh lad”… was the most affectionate and caring name he had ever been called.  He saw God like his Grandfather, who loved him and always had time for him, who always answered him.  So naturally for him, he called God by that same loving name that meant so much to him.

I think God would be delighted each time he prayed to him as “Ahhh lad”.  I could not think of a more appropriate title for him to use when praying to God than his simple “Ahhh lad”.  

There is no right and wrong way to start our prayers to God, we can address God in what ever way we are comfortable with and that has meaning to us.

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