The Way: Reflections on Prayer
The focus of the sermons this week at both the Voorhees and Mount Laurel campuses was prayer. Both Pastor Jeff and Pastor Rick reminded us that prayer is simply a conversation with God. Both sermons had an impact on me, and the impact centered around the same thing, God as Father. In Rick’s message, he said that the best translation for Abba is daddy, an intimate name. A name that Jesus gave God, as he told us to pray to Him as our father. Jeff posed a question which was, “Who do you pray to?” Jeff’s response is that he generally starts his prayers with “Father.”
I had to think about Jeff’s question for a few minutes. While I generally address God in my prayers (and occasionally switch it up to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as Jeff suggested), I realized that I rarely address God as Father. Jeff mentioned that some people have a hard time doing that because they had hard, cruel earthly fathers. That is not my case, my story is a little different. I loved my father. I was loved and wanted by my father. But because of abuse in his childhood, that he could never quite get over, he developed several addictive tendencies. Thankfully he was always employed, so I was taken care of physically. But he made lots of poor decisions, and was really unable to provide emotional and spiritual stability for my mother, myself and my siblings. He often threatened to leave, so I suppose I developed a habit of always waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” That has lead me into years of struggling with perfectionism and control. I like to think I am a recovering perfectionist and control freak.
I have been walking through a very difficult season in life over the last few months. I have been pouring my heart out to God, and listening for his response and wondering how my situation is going to turn out. I would like to say I have not worried at all, wouldn’t be true. But I have prayed for God to help me in my unbelief. Keeping my eyes on Jesus, not the waves, helps me to take the next right step.
Now all of this was rattling around in my mind after the service. That is typical for me on a week where I know I am going to be writing the blog. An event that happened at work came to mind in the midst of it. I am a nurse in a school, and a young man came into the office in distress. It became evident that we were going to have to perform an emergent procedure on him. He was trying so hard to be brave, but his eyes had tears. I asked him if he was scared, he said yes. Then I gently explained to him that is was okay to be scared, it was scary. I also told him that this event was why we had procedures, that we knew what we were going to do, and that he would be okay. As I finished thinking this thought, God gently spoke to my spirit. He said, “Vickie, the words that you spoke to that young man in his distress are the same I speak to you in yours. I know you are scared, it is scary. But I know what I am doing; trust that, and you will be okay.” And that is when I started to cry. (By the way, if you are thinking about what you are going to write in a sensitive blog post, you may not want to do that while you are in the Trader Joe’s. Other shoppers tend to look at you weird when there are tears and running mascara involved.)
So the takeaway is this: I have never struggled with the fact that God loves me. My earthly father loved me. What I do struggle with is will God take care of me? Does he see what I need? Will he come through for me? These are the things my earthly father was generally unable to provide. I have to stop equating God with my earthly father. I believe my dad is with Jesus now and I am grateful. He was loving and wounded and flawed, and he did the best he could. But God is my heavenly Father, and he is able to do much more for me than I could ask or imagine. He heals my wounds. He binds up my broken heart. He works all things for my good. He has a future and a hope for me. I need to believe these truths and live as though I expect God to come through. God is able and his promises are true. I think I am going to start a new habit of addressing my prayers to Abba, my Daddy, and trust that Daddy can take care of it all.
Who do you pray to? I would love to hear all of the answers to that question in the comments.