In the midst of broken dreams and riveting pain, how should we pray? Should we pray for healing and deliverance, believing that we just need to ask because God can do anything? Or should we relinquish our desires to God, trusting that even in our anguish he has the perfect plan for us?
Yes. When life falls apart, God invites us to do both. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced unimaginable suffering. Sweating drops of blood, he fell to the ground and prayed: “Abba, Father . . . everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36). Jesus, in his agony, is teaching us by example how to pray when we’re desperate.
Jesus does not begin with, “Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth.” Of course, God is Lord of all and deserves honor and reverence. But Jesus chooses a term of endearment: Abba. While Abba does not mean “Daddy,” it was used as an intimate, personal term for “Father.” Jesus is asking his Father to do something for him.
I grew up calling my father “Daddy,” and still do to this day. It was a great name when I was happy with him, but when I was upset I wanted to call him “Sir.” I could feel distant and defiant on the inside when I said “Sir,” but there was no separating myself from him when I said “Daddy.” And my father, who wisely knew this, insisted that I call him “Daddy” after our disagreements. When I was able to use that name sincerely, he knew our reconciliation was complete. In a similar way, I need to draw near to God in my pain. He’s the Almighty Lord, but he’s also my Abba Father (Rom. 8:15). I need to approach him as such.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner is the author of The Scars That Have Shaped Me and is a regular contributor to DesiringGod.org. Excerpted from The Scars That Have Shaped Me, © Vaneetha Rendall Risner 2016, used by permission.