Have you ever hit the bottom of the prayer barrel?
You’ve been praying about the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year, yet nothing will budge.
You’ve been crying facedown before the Lord, your heart wrenching right in two, yet he seems deaf to your cries.
And now? Now you have no words left. Whenever you find yourself alone with God, the words stick in your throat. There are no eloquent petitions, no pronouncements of trust. Just the hollow beating of your heart. Even if you manage to squeeze out some words, they bounce off the ceiling, right back at you. You never wanted it to come to this, but you have no idea how to get on speaking terms with him again.
I know what it’s like to have parched lips, mute tongue. I know what it’s like to hear nothing at prayer time but the beating of my own heart. Yet the more I read Scripture, the more convinced I am that there’s only one prayer—indeed, one word—that really matters.
It was the first prayer the disciples learned to pray:
Our Abba in heaven . . . (Matthew 6:9)
It was the desperate cry of the prodigal son returning home to his father:
Abba, I have sinned against both heaven and you . . . (Luke 15:21)
It was the anguished cry of Jesus himself during that final week of his life on earth:
Abba, Father . . . please take this cup of suffering away from me. (Mark 14:36)
Abba, forgive them. . . . (Luke 23:34)
Abba, I entrust my spirit into your hands! (Luke 23:46)
When we cry out “Abba,” we’re not just picking one of God’s names at random; we’re claiming our special relationship to him. We’re saying we know who he is and we know who we are: his own beloved daughters and sons.
In that case, maybe it doesn’t matter so much how we pray; it’s who we’re praying to.
We don’t need to have all the right words—just the one word that makes all things right. Abba.