By LAURA LEE LEATHERS
Many years ago in Augsburg, Germany, my Sunday school teacher, Mary Nell, and I met once a week to pray together. Our weekly prayer times stopped when she and her family moved to Nuremberg. So we decided to spend a few days in each other’s homes as much as possible. During those mini-stays, I watched a Christian family interact. One of the things I enjoyed the most was watching the interaction of her two daughters with their father, her husband, Fred. They didn’t call him Daddy, Dad or Father. Instead, he was Papa.
A distinctive name
This name was foreign to me. I had never heard anyone call their earthly father Papa. It was unusual, different, and a term of endearment. When the young girls said his name, they beamed, and he glowed. It was his unique name, and I loved it! There were many things I learned as I watched this Christian family. But at the top of my list was that if I ever had children, they would call their father Papa, and our children did.
What name do/did you call your father? I decided to do a survey asking others this question. The number one response was Daddy. Next was Dad. Not one person mentioned the name Papa. I found that very interesting, and I wondered why. Could the answer be that it is a name for a grandfather?
Years later, whenever our family would be in a group setting, I watched as fathers turned their heads whenever they heard the name Daddy. Was it their child calling? When my children called, “Papa,” their father was the only one who heard that distinctive name and responded to his child’s call.
In the Old Testament (Exodus 3), Moses asks God what to say to the children of Israel when they ask for God’s name. “What shall I say to them?” (v. 13)
God replies, “I AM WHO I AM” — His distinctive name. Continue reading; in the following verses, God explains this name. It is a memorial to all generations.
Delighting in His name
In the second part of the survey, I asked, how do you address God when praying? The number one response was Father. Other examples were Heavenly Father, Lord, Dear Lord, Father God, Father and Lord Jesus, and Abba.
When I am in church or with friends and someone prays, I listen for their salutation. How do they call out or address God?
How do you and I come before the Almighty, holy, righteous God? First and foremost, we need to recognize that we can’t. We gain access to the throne room only through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He is our “great High Priest.” One of the passages I often refer to is Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV):
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Many years ago, I heard a professor friend of mine begin her prayer by saying, “Gracious Heavenly Father …” What? Why would you add the word “gracious” before “Heavenly Father”? Her reply was simple: We have access to His throne room because of His grace, and I want to come humbly before Him with thankfulness for that grace.
How grateful I am that I can come boldly to His throne of grace and obtain His mercy, knowing I can trust Him to supply grace to meet all my needs. And you can too!
I don’t remember my earthly father ever praying with me, but I have memories of my praying for him. It has made me aware that the most significant work an earthly father can do is pray for his children and teach them how to pray to our gracious Heavenly Father.
Dads, by what name do your children call you, and how are you teaching your child/children to pray to their Heavenly Father?
Happy Father’s Day!