What do you call Him?
I’ve been in Church since I was born. I’ve been in Charismatic circles mostly, with a short stint in a Methodist Church, and I always have observed how people pray (I know it’s not right but I’m being honest). It’s always interesting listening to how people pray. You have the repetitious prayer that start and end every sentence with “O Lord God”. As if they need to keep God’s attention while praying so they constantly address Him in case He looks away or something. You have the one whose face contorts to a “something smells bad” face. Then you have the gasper. The one who, seemingly, has breathing issues. The gasp after every sentence. You have the short-winded, “Thank you, Jesus” or the long-winded “During Lord excellence Jesus on the Throne, God Almighty, El Shaddia, Eloyhim…etc etc” On the other side you have the one whose tone becomes but a whisper and sounds on the verge of tears the whole time. One of the most common, which I like the least, is the prayer preacher. You know who I’m talking about. The one who takes advantage of the silence in order to praypreach where they tell God a sermon in their prayer, but you know that person is really speaking to those listening. I can’t help but the mention the King James prayer. They pray in thees and thous as if God only understands or speaks Elizabethan. At last but not least is the conversationalist. The person who is himself when praying. There is no lower or higher persona they go to in order to talk to God.
I’m attempting to be humorous while describing because you know these people and you may be one of them. And hey, there’s no shame in your game! That’s who you are and don’t be ashamed. These ways of praying are not wrong per se but I want to submit a challenge to you later on so please keep reading. However, I do find it important not so much how you call Him but what you call Him. Let me explain.
What do you call Him?
God has many names. Depending on who you talk to you it ranges from zero to 8 to 100. If you’ve read “A Name is to be Desired” you’ll know the impact names have and how they direct or influence the person. Name carried weight and the speak about the relationship you have with the person the name is attached to. Have you ever heard someone call their Dad by their Dad’s first name? Weird right? Well I think so. I’m sure it could very well be a cultural thing or respectful thing but, in general, it strikes me as odd. Usually its the step-dad that gets called by their first name. To me, it’s about relationship.
Let me describe a fictitious and very generalized person to you:
Joe was an Army brat. Always moving and never planted. No roots. His Dad, due to his military training and culture, wanted to be addressed as “Sir” and only “Sir”. No “Dad” or “Daddy” just “Sir”. Joe grew up with a Dad who was more authority figure than father. All through Joe’s life he respected his father but didn’t really know him (his dad was always away or working a lot). His dad with the boss. A strict boss. Now Joe gets saved. He goes to Church, sings songs, and pray for his meals. Yet he never connects fully with God. He addresses God has “Almighty God” or “Master”. But the conversation is always one-sided. Either “God” tells him what to do all the time or he speaks to God in vague or cold words. He didn’t know a father growing up, just a sir. Now only knows God in the same way.
You may be “Joe” or know a “Joe”. He’s not at fault. You’re not at fault. Who we are today and how we relate to God today are directly influenced by our childhood and the relationships we had when we were kids. A product of our environment if you will. Lets look at another profile.
Jenn was a great student. She walked early, spoke before all the other girls her age, and performed high in all aspects. Her parents saw that and took advantage (in a good way) of her developmental stages to have her learn as much as possible. Her parents had a list for her to accomplish. However when older that same list became a burden. She felt like a project. How many things could her parents accomplish through her for their benefit. She grew away from her parents and left the house when she was 18. She went to college and never visited home. She studied hard even though she knew it drained her and, though never talking to her parents, was secretly still trying to please them. Then God found her. Though He lovingly wanted to speak to her just for the sake of know her she only felt a burden to please Him. Addiction could very well be a good word to describe her relationship to Him. She really could never address God personally but only as “God”. The most generic, emotionless side of the word.
Again this is a very general profile of someone but could very well be you or someone you know. If it is you then take heart. It wasn’t meant to dig into any wound but to show you a better, more lifefull instead of lifeless way to engage with your Heavenly Father.
What do you call Him?
And there’s the word. Heavenly Father. Father. Dad. Abba. Daddy. Did you know you can call Him “Daddy”?
We have many relationships with God. He is God Almighty the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is El Shaddia. He is also Abba. He is Master. The list goes on. So I have a challenge for you.
How we address God in prayer determines our posture before Him. If we only call Him “God Almighty” then our focus will always be on His bigness and not His closeness. If in prayer we only address Him as “O God” after every sentence then maybe we come to Him with a helpless plea instead of a confident expectancy of His goodness. When you pray, are you praying to a God out of reach or a God that lives inside you? Is God only a harsh taskmaster with a to-do list for you or is it a conversation with an intimate friend or older brother (that’s who Jesus is to and for you).
If you’ve had an over bearing father growing up and only address God as “God” then try calling Him “Father” instead. How we address and relate to the Trinity can speak volumes of our relationship with Him. If we had a poor or nonexistent relationship with our earthly father then God as Father is a hard thing. If we had no siblings or poor relationship with siblings then we may find it hard to relate to Jesus since He is our older brother. If we didn’t have a mom or our mom was harsh and not intimate then we may have issues relating to the Holy Spirit. What I just described is what some call the “Father Ladder” where we look at our past and present and how we relate to God and where to find possible blockages to relating with Him.
So here is the challenge. Try to address God differently. If all you know is to call God “God” or “Jesus Lord God” as some, then start to address Him as Father, Dad, and/or Daddy. Address Him by the opposite character of the bad root you experience as a child or with religion. If Jesus is hard to relate to then address God as Jesus. If the Holy Spirit is hard to relate to then address Him as Holy Spirit. If you had the worst dad imaginable then call God “Father”. It may be extremely difficult at first but just try it.
In my own life I almost always say Father or Heavenly Father. It gives me proper perspective and brings a closeness to God that doesn’t come with genericness. Also I try my best not to continually use His name. When I pray to Him, His ears are always attentive and I don’t need to continually gain back his attention with calling out His name constantly. Prayer should not be religious. I mean look how Jesus prayed. In John 11:41-2 He says, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”” Have. Have heard me. Hey even Jesus did some prayerpreaching! I told you it’s not necessarily wrong!