A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Prayer as Conversation with a Close Personal Friend

Our family has been on vacation this past week in Western Massachusetts in the Berkshire Mountains. It has been a wonderful time of fun and relaxation. Earlier in the week we went to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. We stopped at KFC for lunch (not my first choice, but hey, we were hungry). As we ate and talked, I noticed a woman, who being all alone, sat down by herself with her food. She put everything in front of her and then she stopped, bowed her head and prayed. As I watched, it seemed obvious to me that this was a woman in close touch with God. I realize that this was my impression only from observation, but her body language, the moving of her lips as she prayed silently, and the look on her face made it clear to me that, in her prayer, she was having an intimate conversation with a friend.

I was raised in a church tradition that emphasized God as the Heavenly Father above all things to the extent that God should never be addressed as anything other than formally as "Father" or "God," reminscent of Karl Barth's "Wholly Other." The fact that Jesus addressed God with the intimate Aramaic term Abba, ("Daddy" or "Papa,") would have scandalized the church elders in my boyhood congregation. Yet, as I observed that woman in KFC, it seemed obvious to me that she was having a conversation with her Heavenly Daddy.

It is a fundamental christological affirmation that in Jesus Christ, God has come to us up close and personal. It is fundamental that in Jesus, God has made it possible for us to be in the kind of affectionate relationship as a father with his son or daughter. It is fundamental that in Jesus, God has made it possible for us to journey in this life with the God of the Universe, who walks beside us listening to us as any loving parent who wants to wrap his arms around us along the way.

God is indeed Wholly Other. God is indeed above all powers and things present and things to come; but God is also our Heavenly Daddy who cares for us so deeply and who desires to speak with us as we speak with him.

It is impossible to have a close and personal friendship with someone we never talk to; it is impossible to be in relationship with a God we never pray to. When we talk to God, let us do so as a child who lovingly speaks to our Abba, whether it is in a KFC or at home or in church.

Pastors, I invite you on some Sunday during worship to start your morning prayer by addressing God as "Our wonderful Daddy in Heaven," and wait for the response after church. It will be a teachable moment.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts. I'm reminded of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, and the gospels and NT clearly bear out what you say.

I am kind of picking up this spirit too, as I am enjoying a new rendition of Augustine's Confessions entitled, "You Converted Me", with notes and intro from Tony Jones.

On the one hand I know I need to grow here so much, as often times I don't seem to look or think of God in this way. On the other hand, in the small way I'm growing and learning to do this, I see God enabling me to better "overcome" with faith through difficulties, than in times past.

Allan R. Bevere said...


I have so enjoyed reading Augustine's Confessions over the years. I continue to go back to it time and time again.

The new rendition sounds interesting. I will have to pick it up.


Sally said...

Thanks Allan, I did this last week and was surprised at how well it was recievd- this is a beautiful post- well worth the KFC meal

Allan R. Bevere said...


Terrific! What a great lesson in theology you gave to your congregation!