I saw this picture of my brother with his first grandchild and proud PAPA jumped to mind. It seemed to fit with last night’s confirmation class on the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer’s introduction, Our Father in heaven, became special when I learned that Jesus used the word “abba” for father. It was a term of endearment, more like “daddy” or “papa.” “Father” seems a bit stiff.
The power of the Abba prayer came home to me in a strange way when I was in college. I was home for Christmas break and wanted to get a Christmas gift for the family. I had recently been introduced to C. S. Lewis and thought that a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia would be a good gift, but I had no money. I decided to pray about it and ask God to help. As I entered the Christian bookstore, I was asking God to provide me the money so that I could buy the books. I picked out the books, got in line for the cash register, waiting, hoping for some miracle. How was God going to intervene? A stranger noticing my need, cash on the floor? But as I waited in line, nothing seemed to happen. When I finally reached the register, I stepped out of line and put the books back. I was deeply disappointed that God had not helped me.
The Christian bookstore was directly across from the offices were my dad worked for a local newspaper. I walked across the street to see if he was there. He was and he asked me how I was doing. I am not sure now exactly how the conversation went, but somehow I asked for a few dollars and he gave me enough to buy the books. Abba had provided after all, just not the way I expected.
The lesson I learned that day was that prayer is not magic, but a relationship. There are Christians who have their prayers answered in miraculous, amazing ways. I tend not to be one of them. Instead, God uses the means around me to provide for my daily bread and to save me from the time of trial. Papa in Heaven is at work through my brothers and sister who live here on earth. And that also means that at times I may be God’s answer to someone else’s prayer. And I thank God that I am one of His beloved children who can call him Papa.
How have you experienced Papa‘s answer to prayer?