How we start our prayers is important!
[Read the explanation in the Small Catechism]
How do you address God?
Yes, there is a connection here to the Second Commandment. A proper use of God’s Name is prayer. Much like you would call out to a parent for them to hear you or help you with something, so a good prayer starts.
The word the Jesus uses for “Father” is “Abba” which is the casual and loving Greek term, not the formal “Pater.” So, this best translation would be Dad, Daddy or Papa. It is necessary to be sure that this emotive connection is there, even if the formal word is used. If it is the wrong word, why do we use “father”? Many teachers wanted students learning the Lord’s Prayer to use an address that had a nuance of respect and recognized authority. It should not be too hard for us to acknowledge that we frequently have a hard time with what Jesus says and shift it to be closer to what we think is acceptable.
Still, the opening is important. If this is our loving and casually close God that is our daddy or papa in heaven, then what can we pray for? What will our Daddy withhold from us? This is a critical component of the incarnation–the chosen closeness and intimate love of our God, coming into our lives. Jesus becomes our brother and gives us permission to address God properly.
Have you ever known someone that, after introductions, said something like, “Oh, please call me Murphy, I don’t use my first name with my friends.” –how would that person feel if you then called them by their first name in a formal manner? Isn’t it an act of accepting and initiating a relationship to call someone how they want to be called? Should we address God as the loving and close Daddy that He is.
Pray for those who do not know how to pray to or address God.
Pray for those who have difficult, conflicted, or non-existent relationships with their earthly father and might find it hard to think of the Heavenly Father in a positive way.
Pray for those who have grown distant from God, barely remembering or hardly using the Lord’s Prayer–that they may turn back and become close again with their heavenly Papa.