I say “caught” because when I heard my voice, after that one word, I stopped. Seriously? Was I going to talk to God that way?
I thought about that prayer the rest of the day. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with addressing God by using that very word. I think it was my mind-set and possibly my tone of voice. Yeah, I’m pretty sure my attitude was loud and clear in that one word.
I am the mother of 4 grown daughters, and as they grew up, the name they chose to address me by often reflected their mood and attitude. Even now, as adults, I can usually tell their stance by the way they begin a conversation.
When I hear, Mom, I’m confident we are just going to banter back and forth. Nothing to worry about. Nothing alarming. Just maybe a question or two, possibly some news or an update about their life.
When I hear, Mother, I know I’ve done something that has annoyed, perturbed, or embarrassed them. There is an accent on the “Mo” and “ther” is drawn out — and landed on succinctly. I feel instantly rebuked, whether I deserve to be or not. Thankfully, those times are rare. Either I’m doing something right, or they are holding their tongues. I’m fairly certain it’s the latter.
However there is yet another name by which I’m known. When I hear, Mama, I know for sure they want something. It’s spoken softly, and with affection, and if they are in the same room, I will no doubt feel an arm snuggle around my shoulder.
One word. One name. That’s all it takes.
When I pray, I usually address God by using the word, Father or maybe, Lord. It’s the name I use when I pray out loud. It’s the first word I pen when I write out my prayers in a journal. It’s neither right nor wrong. It just is. You might use another name as you begin to pray, Father God or Heavenly Father, perhaps. We all have our own verbiage, words, and lingo. Our own “Christianese.”
Father, I just want to talk to you today.
God, I’m a bit irritated and on edge today.
Do I use another name, like Mama? Oh yes, I do.
Oh, Dear Jesus, I need something today. Always using both words, Dear Jesus, like that is his full name.
God knows my every thought, so he already knew I was a bit exasperated before I said a word yesterday, but the name I used, and the way I said it, betrayed my attitude to me. I heard it. And it made me cringe.
I couldn’t help but think of my girls. I don’t know their thoughts, and often, I can’t detect their moods, but how they call out to me doesn’t really matter. They are my children. I call them mine. When they talk, I want to hear. I want to listen. I want to help, and meet their needs.
If I want to hear from my girls, how much more our heavenly Father wants to hear from us. God knows and understands me even before I utter a word. It says in Psalm 139:4, “Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.”
God knows when I’m doing fine, and He knows when I’m moody. I’m thankful that he allows me to work out my faith, in my prayers, with some frustration and questions. I’m grateful that He listens intently every time I say Father. Every time I say God. And every single time I say Dear Jesus — even if I need the same “something” again and again and again.
He wants to hear from me. I am his child. He calls me his own.
He wants to hear from you too, no matter your mood, no matter what you’re going through, he’s there… calling YOU by name.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are mine.
I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you. For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.”
— Isaiah 43:1-3 CSB