When I was growing up, we always started our prayers with: “Heavenly Father… (insert prayer here)…In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.” For the longest time, those words didn't have any meaning to me; it was just a routine I grew up with. I didn't know God well, so I addressed Him just like everyone else did. This one year at camp I remember one of my cabin leaders prayed out loud, simply telling God about her day saying, “Hey God, here’s what’s happening in my life…” I realized that you don't have to sound fancy or holy when you talk to Him, you can be real, honest, and down to earth.
The other day, I started reading The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. In his book, Groeschel talks about what it means to really know who God is. He looks at the difference between saying you’re a Christian and actually having a relationship with Christ. There’s one chapter on prayer and talking to God that really challenged me:
“What do you call God? The Big Guy in the Sky? The Man Upstairs? Dear eight-pound, six-ounce Baby Jesus? Then you don’t know him. Those titles may be clever or funny, but they certainly aren’t intimate.
If you know God, you are likely to be far more specific with him, and the words you use will reflect your accurate understanding of him. Maybe God graciously forgave you for two decades of sins and you gratefully call him “Savior.” Perhaps when you pray, you call God “Healer” because he’s healed your broken heart. Maybe you call him “Comforter” because he has come alongside and provided company in your misery. Maybe you call him “Fortress” or “Rock” or “Strength.” Maybe you’ve found yourself backed into a corner, with nowhere to turn, creditors calling, and he’s “Provider” to you. If you’re a woman and the man in your life has abandoned you, you might even call him “Husband.” When you feel totally alone, perhaps you call him “Friend.” Maybe your earthly father has never been there for you, and to you God is “Father.”
What do you call God? Your answer may be a clue to how well you know him. Or don’t.”
If you were to call me “Anne”, you probably don’t know that no one calls me that. If you call me “Annie”, we’re probably friends or family. Call me “Aqua” and I know you from working at camp. My brother and I sometimes call each other “Brougah”. If you were to call me “Sluggard” or “Fannie”, you know me really well. The names you give other people depends on the relationship you have with them. It's the same with God. The name you have for God shows how close you are to Him.
In the Bible, David has an incredible relationship with God and you can tell by the way he addresses Him. “I love you Lord; my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2) This psalm was written when the Lord delivered him from his enemies and from Saul. The words he uses to talk to God show how much he loves and trusts Him.
God’s become so much more to me than just someone I learned about at church. When I’m outside on a beautiful day, He’s the perfect Creator who makes no mistakes. He's the kindest and greatest Teacher, and I'm His student. Whenever I've had no one to turn to, He’s been my Best Friend; one that will always be there. When I feel like I’m not good enough, He becomes my Strength. Throughout my life He’s been my Provider, not giving me everything I want, but everything I need. Every time I mess up He never fails to be loving and gracious. There are so many names for God, but these are the ones that mean the most to me.
What do you call God? Does it reveal anything to you about your relationship with Him?