How to Pray if ‘Father’ Is a Loaded Term

There’s a way to pray to the father who you want and need.

Posted in , Jan 12, 2022

Man praying

Prayer can be a challenge—especially in the case of a person whose relationship with his or her father was…difficult. 

It’s understandable, of course. If your earthly father was neglectful, distant or worse, it may be hard to imagine or experience your heavenly Father in a different way. For the person to whom “father” is a loaded term, prayer may even seem an impossibility. 

That’s why I’ve often steered people in that predicament to the experience of Moses in the wilderness of Midian, which the Bible relates in Exodus 3. Moses was tending the sheep his father-in-law owned and came upon an arresting sight: a desert bush on fire. It burned, but didn’t burn out. 

When Moses approached, the voice of God called him by name and revealed Himself as “the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6 NIV). But His revelation didn’t end there. Later, when asked for His name, God answered, “I AM.” 

If that seems mysterious to you, join the crowd. It’s been a mystery for millennia. But in the mystery is hope for men and women who struggle to pray in spite of—or beyond—the experience of their earthly father. 

Because the mysterious name of God is an invitation. An invitation to pray to the Father you want. The Father you need. 

Do you struggle to pray because your father was absent? Pray to the “I AM,” to your Father who is pure existence, who reveals Himself to you as “I AM here.” 

Is prayer difficult because your father was unloving? Pray to the “I AM,” to your Father who reveals Himself to you as “I AM love.” 

Does the memory of an abusive father hinder your prayers? Pray to the “I AM,” to your Father who reveals Himself to you as “I AM your healer.” 

The wounds that many of us carry from a difficult or hurtful relationship with our earthly fathers are real and substantial. It takes time and effort to heal from such wounds. But your heavenly Father is patient and ready to meet you in prayer and reveal Himself—as He did to Moses—as the Father you want and need and always have.

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