Thursday, February 10, 2011

That One Word Changed Everything

In my previous post I shared a funny story about my childhood. If you haven’t already read it, I invite you check it out before you continue. Laughing is fun and good and it is even better when I know you’re laughing at me. I wrote it because I wanted to share a humorous example of what my life has been like without a dad. The post below is another example, but has a different tone and purpose as you will see.


I’ll never forget the way she prayed.

Jamie had become my friend over the months we had been living in Italy with Campus Crusade. She and the other girls would come over to our place for a weekly meeting, which included studying how the Gospel transforms our lives and praying for one another. After prayer requests were shared among the group we would all bow our heads and spend some extended time going before God.

Jamie’s prayers stood out to me every time. The reason may not be what you expect. Jamie’s prayers were not excessively long nor particularly short. Her prayers were not filled with a string of memorized bible verses that all somehow related to our issues nor was she spewing out words that would have her kicked out of any Bible-believing church. Jamie was not prone to wailing on her knees in sadness nor would she wildly flail her arms in rejoicing before the Lord. So what was it about the way Jamie prayed that has deeply impacted me to this day? Simply this:

Jamie always started her prayers with “Father.”

You see, I grew up without a dad. I don’t mean that my father was physically present but emotionally absent. I mean that my dad was never in any real way a part of my life. He didn’t see my first steps. He didn’t hear the first words that came out of my mouth. He never saw me win the fourth grade spelling bee. He never came to cheer me on at my basketball games. He wasn’t there for my first date, my first breakup, my high school graduation, my college graduation. I never heard from his lips, “I’m proud of you son.” 

In everything I’ve done I’ve been quite successful. I’ve won awards and accolades. I am complimented often and am continually told how great of an impact I can have in this world. I share this not to boast, but to confess I’ve spent much of my life striving for this success with the hope to hear those abyss-filling words from him – “I’m proud of you son” – from this ghost of a father.

Somehow the absence of my earthly father had caused me to keep myself at a distance with God. I never really thought about it until I heard Jamie’s prayers because they had the effect of a mirror exposing my own prayers. I had no problem praying to God, but that was just it; I would always pray to God as “God” or “Lord” or some other title that reflects his authority and his majesty, which, in a sense, reflected his distance from me. Now I am all for praying with reverence and these ways of going before Him are good. But deep down I knew that this was a distance I had kept because I did not know the intimacy of prayer. I didn’t know my adoption into God’s family as his son because of Jesus Christ, His True Son. It was foreign and scary.

But unbeknownst to Jamie, she was relentlessly persistent in showing me that I could pray to God as “Father.” As the months passed and the prayers mounted, I broke down. I began seeing in the New Testament the plethora of examples of Jesus and the apostles speak of God as Father, especially when Jesus told his disciples how to pray. It was everywhere! Prayer to God had always been there since I became a Christian, but intimacy with my Father began to take deeper roots thanks to Jamie’s example of prayer.

The Christian life is a funny thing because no matter how old you get, no matter how many birthdays you celebrate, no matter how successful you become, no matter the name you make for yourself, the key to joy is remembering you’re Abba’s child.

One of the best ways I’ve come to know this is through this simple word that plumbs profound realities of God. Have you ever examined how you pray? How do you typically start your prayers? Today, I ask that you join me in prayer, going before God with the words Jesus gave – “Our Father…” 

By His Grace.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I appreciated it and although I don't know what it is like to grow up without a dad, I found your story very moving and it encourages me to remember God as our heavenly dad. Thanks.

  2. I appreciate the words, Jacob. Feel free to share it :)

  3. Andrew, your openness to sharing your life with the world is so encouraging. Keep it going, friend. :)

  4. Thank you so much Sarah. That means a ton. Come hang out at our place more!!! :)