In my blog, I often refer to God as my Heavenly Father. But I have to admit that was one of the hardest names to attach to God.
Despite the occurrence of Father as the name for God more than 150 times in the New Testament, viewing Him in the dad role was a stretch for me. You see, I loved my father greatly, but when I was younger, we had a contentious relationship. Chalk it up to us both being strong, opinionated personalities or him being wrong and me being right (see? opinionated! 😉 ), but whatever the reason, it was not smooth sailing for my teen and young adult years. We were often at odds with one another.
Right at this same time, I was coming into my own with my faith. And I looked at this term Father and realized all the baggage I brought with it. How could I view God as my father, my pops, my dad?
I’d love to say that I immediately saw the error of my ways in not honoring my earthly father, made perfect peace with the man who raised me, and skipped off into the sunset praying, “Dear Father, oh my beloved Father…” But I didn’t. I just tended toward other names, like Lord, Savior, and God.
I know — just know — that some wives out there struggle with seeing God as their loving father. So when I talk about how He’s listening to you as a Father would, wanting to give you the kind of gifts that a Father gives (see Matthew 7:9-11), and comforting you like a Father would his beloved daughter, it’s hard for you to relate.
Maybe you experienced not merely an unharmonious relationship with your dad, but an abusive one. Or he was simply absent. How much more difficult is it then for you to pray to God as your Heavenly Father who wants to bless your marriage bed?
Look, I don’t have daddy issues anymore. My father and I long ago made peace and ended up with a beautiful relationship that culminated in my being at his bedside and holding his hand as he left this life last year. But I know wives who will never have that peace with their earthly fathers. And when they try to imagine God as Father, that image brings with it baggage and emotional pain. That difficult experience ends up hindering your prayer life.
So how can you start praying for your marriage and your sexual intimacy? Believing that God will be the loving father who gives beautiful gifts to His children?
Recognize He knows your struggle. God’s not upset that you’re not calling Him Father and seeing Him as the loving gift-giver He is. At least not in a personally offended way. He’s upset that you are going through this struggle and wants to help you understand who He is and what a truly loving Father looks like.
Use another name in prayer. Like I said, for a time I used other names. As I grew comfortable with one, I stretched my comfort zone to add another. There are many, many names of God in the Bible, and He answers to those names too.
Make peace with your father. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Suck it up and go make peace with the man who gave you life. As best you can. No, this doesn’t mean you let anyone walk all over you; rather, you establish a healthy adult relationship with grace, boundaries, and love. Making peace with your earthly father might help you make peace with the idea of God as father.
Find other daddy images. If your father was abusive or absent, consider other fathers you’ve come across who were excellent dads. Was there an uncle or grandfather or male family friend who reached out to you in your youth? Do you have a brother who has become a wonderful father? What about your husband? Some people have even said that fictional images of fathers helped them understand what a good, healthy dad looks like. Whatever the source, think about the great dads out there, because they do exist. And they are hints of the kind of father God is.
Realize that God is the Perfect Father. Your dad is a flawed father, your God is not. While the mental image of father gives us a good sense of our relationship to God, it doesn’t begin to describe His perfection. He’s all the best traits of dads, and none of the bad ones, put together in one person, then amped up to an eleven. He’s Father Knows Best on steroids. He’s in a category all His own. There is one Heavenly Father, and growing closer to Him helps us to understand what that looks like.
Believe that He wants to bless your marriage bed. Going back to my analogy, yes, our Heavenly Father gave a gift to marriage. He said, “Hey, kids, I need to give you a way to reproduce, so I’m creating sex. But you know what? I want it to be different from animals who mate to continue their species. Because you are made in My image, I want your sexuality to reflect the kind of relationship that I value, so I’m going to make this gift even better. It will be for the exclusive, covenant bond of marriage, and it will give you great pleasure and deep intimacy. And children, when you enjoy the gift I’m giving you, I will be smiling like a proud dad.” Okay, He didn’t say that. But I think that’s His intention and His longing for us — He wants to bless our marriage beds.
As I go through this prayer topic on Saturdays, and on my blog generally, when you encounter Heavenly Father, check yourself to see if you have a positive or negative reaction to that name. Open yourself up to what that really means when it comes to God. And what it means for your marriage and your sexual intimacy.
Prayer Challenge This Week: Write down 3-5 different names of God and pray about the sexual intimacy in your marriage with each of those names. Which one or ones are most comfortable? Which ones do you struggle with? Ask God to help you see Him as He really is, without our baggage about earthly father relationships or even men generally.
Related post: What Dads Teach Their Daughters about Intimacy