Trust Jesus' Abba as your Abba

Spreading The Truth One Byte At A Time

By Ron Bender© 2008, 2013

Read The Bible

Jesus wants you to know God as Abba

Probably you know Jesus’ famous Parable of the Prodigal Son, but have you found yourself in the story? Has your heart been melted by experiencing Almighty God as your Abba, your dear Papa?

One way to do this is to spend some time with Rembrandt’s painting, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” It’ll improve your view of God and your relationship with him.

Many Christian leaders and Christ-followers of all kinds struggle to trust God as their Abba. On the surface they believe that God loves them this much — they may teach this message to others — but in their hearts they are not experiencing the affectionate embrace of God that Rembrandt portrays in his visual rendering of Jesus’ parable. As they do what they do in their daily lives they are not putting their confidence in the God Jesus knows as Abba.

What is your Image of God?

Many people have in the background of their mind or in their unconscious a view of a distant God, sort of like a statue that looks beautiful, but is cold and unmoving — they can’t get close and personal with him. For others their image is of a stern-faced God who is like a policeman or a judge that upholds the law harshly — they can never be good enough to be accepted. Still others have a concept of a God as kind and nice, like Santa Claus he is happy to give gifts to almost anyone but he lacks true character — they don’t learn how to become more like Jesus.

It takes some understanding the actual image of God that you operate on. We develop our view of God as children, based mostly on our relationships with our father, mother, and others who are significant in our personal and spiritual development. If you grew up with abuse, addiction, abandonment, condemnation, pressure to perform, or emotional neglect (and most of us have experienced at least some of one or more of those wounds) then it affects your internal, heart-level image of what God is like.

The Return of the Prodigal

Henri Nouwen spent months meditating on Rembrandt’s painting of Jesus’ parable from Luke 15:11-32. This brought deep healing to his soul and led him to write a wonderful book, The Return of the Prodigal Son (same title as the painting.)

Jesus’ parable is full of the wonders of heaven. The heart of the parable is Jesus showing us in the father of the prodigal and elder sons what our Heavenly Father is like. Jesus prayed to God as Abba (Mark 14:36) and he wanted us to know this wonderful blessing too.

If Nouwen spent months with this work of art it might benefit us to spend a few minutes! Indeed, it is very profitable for our souls to meditate on a work of art or a scene in nature in a similar way that we meditate on a Bible passage. You can try this with Rembrandt’s painting pictured above…

Perhaps there is a figure in the background of the painting that is painful for you either because you’ve been treated that way or you identify with that character? Spend a few moments reflecting and praying as you consider each onlooker:

  • Pharisee / Elder Brother on the right in the foreground. He looks down on the father and prodigal son with a frown of condemnation.
  • Tax collector seated near the center. He beats his breast in humble confession of his need to receive the father’s mercy with the prodigal son.
  • Man or woman looking on from behind. He or she is looking on with interest, close to the father’s embrace but seems so far away.
  • Shadowy figure on top left. He or she seems far removed, observing the father love the prodigal but not entering into the experience personally.

Have you accepted that you are in the position of the prodigal son before the father? All of us — even if we’re hard-working, dutiful elder brother types — have left our Father and need to return to him. If you are in the position of one of the onlookers step into the Father’s loving embrace.

  • Look closely at the father. His face is soft and his eyes are focused on his son. He’s leaning down and he’s extended his arms to embrace his son affectionately.
  • Notice that his right (dominant) hand is slender and soft and his left hand is larges and rough. Our Father God is strong and tender, holy and gracious — these are his two sides of love. He leads with his kind hand and that is what draws us to repent (Romans 2:4). (In contrast the Pharisees right hand is dark and large and it covers his left hand which is soft — they were condemning and lacked compassion.)
  • To receive this fatherly love you need to fall at his feet as the prodigal did. Cry out to your Heavenly Father about what you’re struggling with today… Share your hurts and stress… Confess your sins… Bury your head in his chest… Feel his loving hands on your back holding you close… Listen to his heartbeat…

Can you imagine yourself as the father? You may not have thought of that before, but there are people in your life who need your love and care.

  • What do you have to give that others need? Thank God for gifts he’s given you, the things he’s taught you, and the love he has put in your heart that you can share with others.
  • Who in your life needs your blessing? Pray for these people.
Hold Abba in your Heart Now

When you put your confidence in Jesus Christ he puts the Holy Spirit in your heart. The Holy Spirit is your Strengthener and Advocate in all things. He intercedes for you to help you know and rely upon God as your Abba (Galatians 4:6).

Try holding the embrace of Abba in your heart. Let Rembrandt’s picture to be drawn on your heart. Pray to God as “Abba.” My little Breath Prayer inspired by Psalm 33:21 may help:

“Rejoice in Abba… trust in his holy name.”

You might write this down and memorize it. Then you can repeat it to yourself over and over, slowly praying the words from your heart to let them sink deep inside.

To help you appreciate this great truth and hold onto it you might try the Breath Prayer this way…

  • Breathe in this most precious name of God as you pray: “Rejoice in Abba…”
  • Hold your breath a few moments to help you mentally and emotionally hold onto the sweet revelation that the Lord God is your Papa…
  • As you release your breath pray, “Trust in his holy name.” Let releasing your breath represent letting go of the things in life you worry about or whatever distracts you from God so that you can trust in God alone.
Other Bytes

I love to pray to God as Abba and this has been so helpful to so many people so I write about it a lot!

Abba’s Child” will help you discover your true identity.


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Ronald Bender- President/CEO Bender Consulting.~



Faith In God