How do you address God in prayer? Most people tend to have one name when they speak to the holy one in prayer.
Some stick with God and simply add adjectives such as awesome, amazing or infinite. Others like to use names such as Jehovah.
What those people do not realize is that the name Jehovah is a combination of the vowels from the Hebrew word Adonai, meaning Lord, and the consonants of YHWH, the four-letter sacred name of God in the Hebrew Bible, most often seen in English as "I am" (Exodus 3:14).
The name Jehovah appears in the King James Version as the result of the translators' ignorance of the Hebrew language and customs. Somehow, Jehovah remains a popular name for God in the English-speaking world.
A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting with other ministers. We began the meeting with prayer, and the man who opened began with "Dad." He called God Dad!
As I listened to his prayer, there was a sense of intimacy that I seldom hear in the prayers of others, let alone my own. In Romans 8:15-16, Paul says that as followers of Jesus, "You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry 'Abba, Father!' it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
Abba is an Aramaic word, and its English equivalent would be similar to dad, daddy or papa. What Paul is saying is that we can call the God of the universe "Daddy" because we are his children.
As I began trying this new way of talking with God, I quickly found that there is a connectedness in talking to God as "Dad" that we miss when we use other names. Abba is who Jesus taught us about; and praying to him leads us to know that God is not a distant entity, rather he is the pops who is there for us in every situation we find ourselves in.
It was a liberating experience to pray to God as "Pops." My prayer for you is that when you try, you might experience the love of your dad in a whole new way.
The Rev. Will Dyer is the pastor of Grovetown United Methodist Church.