I never call Him that. If we’re frank, I don’t know how to refer to the Almighty the way I whine to my own father in the early morning light of a cold February. I prefer the prayers well worded and quick. I prefer the deep rhythms of a church reciting together, high and low pitched voices in a strange kind of harmony. I like to imagine that when I stammer my way through grace, I sound something like the holier ones who have come before.
I know they tell us that Jesus called Him Abba – and that’s an equivalent, in the space of translation, to Daddy.
I never really thought we’d be allowed that kind of endearment with God. When I pray, I can’t imagine that God responds to that, that shouldn’t I pray something pretty? Shouldn’t I show God that I’m not wasting my love of words – that I’m putting them in the right order and they say such pretty things?
I called him Daddy twice in the last two days.
I didn’t say it in Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek or some other language that makes it sound somehow more authentic or graceful or the way that I imagine we approach the altar and the throne of the Lamb. I blurted out the “Daddy” of my three year old days. The Daddy of goodnight hugs, two or three at a time, and surprise breakfasts at the diner for good grades and the unselfconscious airport reunions after traveling away from home in high school.
The point of praying can’t always be the pretty.
It can’t be the right theology, so carefully crafted. It can’t be the deep concepts, addressing in God the question about His imminence and His transcendence and His real presence, and the hundreds of unknown dimensions of His reality. It can’t be us asking beautiful, calm, composed, reasonable.
Because we’re a desperate people after the heart of God. And in the afternoons where it rains, and rains, and you tell God that however He does it, Jesus needs to get inside your head and do something about your selfishness, and you don’t know what it is but He can just do it, whatever it is, there is something in that that gets you a little nearer to trust.
All I say is, “Daddy, where are you?”
And I won’t finish the sentences I imagined when I imagined praying – not of intercession or listing the people or the thanksgiving. I won’t wrap the things I believe in beauty. I won’t because I’ll be crying too hard or laughing too hard or both. I won’t because this is the whole prayer.
Daddy, where are you?