SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FOR BUSY PEOPLE
One of the world’s most popular religious paintings is that by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) portraying Christ standing at a door and knocking. It is important to notice that the door on which Christ knocks has no handle. The door can only be opened from the inside. The painting suggests that Christ does not force Himself on us, but knocks gently, wanting to be admitted. I think of the “Seven Spiritual Practices for Busy People” as ways of opening our lives to Him.
In these weeks we have looked at David, “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), as one who made spending time with God and opening his life to God as the top priority.
One thing I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD,
and to inquire in his temple
The “one thing” David pursued above all others was to daily open His life to the ever-present God and to spend time with Him.
We have looked at six spiritual practices that many people have found helpful in living each day in increasing awareness of God’s presence:
- The Daily God Hunt
- Palms Down/Palms Up
- Praying Scripture
- Prayer Walking.
- Imaginative Prayer
Today I want to pass to you and commend our final spiritual practice: THE ABBA PRAYER
PRACTICE SEVEN: ABBA PRAYER
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’?
Developmental psychologists tell us that children learn to speak at 14-18 months in age. A little child’s first sounds are primary sounds such as “Ma ma, ma ma” or “Da da, da da”. In Jesus’ day a little Jewish child in an Aramaic speaking home would utter first sounds such as “Ab ab ab abba”. “Abba” was that young child’s first name for “father”, much like “daddy” in today’s language. As Jesus takes us and unites us to His Father, so His Holy Spirit prompts us to join Jesus in crying out to God as “Abba!” “Daddy!”
I have found that it is one thing to know in my head that I am a child of God through faith in Christ, but quite another thing for me to experience that wondrous reality in my daily life. But Brennan Manning, in his book Abba’s Child, recommends a spiritual practice that has been meaningful for me, and I think it might prove meaningful to you as well. It is a way of praying that helps to take what we know in our heads, and make it real in our hearts. Manning offers the following suggestions for praying the Abba Prayer:
- Sit, kneel, or lie on your bed for a few moments and relax in the Father’s welcoming presence. A few deep breaths can be helpful here for relaxing.
- Once you have relaxed, breathe in slowly while saying “Abba”; breathe out slowly while saying “I belong to You”.
- Slowly, prayerfully, repeat these words for several moments: “Abba” (breathing in); “I belong to You” (breathing out).
- End your prayerful meditation with the Abba Prayer by praying The Lord’s Prayer.
- Take the Abba Prayer with you into your day, praying it at opportune moments: “Abba, I belong to you. Abba, I belong to you…”
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Grace and peace,