Today, I received a note from a new friend and brother in Christ. He is a young man in his twenties and he described to me a new and exciting development in his spiritual life that has been transforming. I asked him to write down what he had experienced and here’s what he wrote.

I am a beloved son of God, or as I recently started calling Him, Papa. I’m very grateful and honored to share with you today about how this switch has drawn me closer to Him. I must admit, when I first started hearing the leaders of this church refer to Him as Papa it struck me as odd and kind of bothered me. Are we really going to refer to the Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, as Papa? Where is the reverence? That’s certainly not how I was taught to address Him growing up.

However, my relationship with God has been shaky at best with a long period of complete denial in God or anything beyond the physical senses. So as I now come back to the Lord a broken man, I figure what I was doing before certainly wasn’t working. Therefore when I heard Pastor Dan mention a couple months ago that, “if your spirit is free, give it a try” regarding the use of Papa, I realized my spirit wasn’t very free on this issue, but I wanted it to be, so I gave it a try.

It was awkward at first. In fact, the first several times I would start out my prayer with God, catch myself, and start again with Papa. But it was actually during this restarting that I began to notice the difference. I noticed my prayers starting with, “Dear God,” seemed to come from my head, but “Papa” came from my heart. And this is the revelation for me; in my mind God has always been up there, somewhere in the sky, but Papa is in my heart.

Using Papa reminds me that I am a beloved son, a member of the greatest family there is. No longer am I afraid to come to my Papa with anything, where in the past I worried I might be bothering God with my seemingly insignificant requests when there were certainly much more important things for Him to tend to. “Papa, help me” is a daily prayer for me now, and He always delivers.

I also want to please my Papa, like any good son does, but this desire comes from a place of love and gratitude and admiration, whereas before I tried to adhere to His rules out of fear. Ultimately I would fail, and shame and guilt would keep me from Him, but my Papa always welcomes me back, only asking that I admit my fault and try better next time. And because I now know my Papa’s love, I find I don’t fail nearly as much.

This switch in name, along with Pastor Dan’s teachings on the spirit of sonship has changed my orphan spirit and my relationship with God. I can’t adequately tell you how grateful I am, and all the people in my life are for this. Thank you Papa!

How this young man addressed God was important to him. What he called God gave him a sense of identity. Addressing God as Papa helped him understand that he is one of God’s sons. As I thought about that, I realized I have many friends. Mike, Scott, Fred, Warren, Chris, Reggie…and the list goes on. But I have one father. His name is Jay Paxton. That’s what you would call him. Some would call him Mr. Paxton. But for me, I don’t use his “given” name. I speak to him based on my relationship to him. It would be so odd to refer to my father as Jay. To me he is Dad.

This is a simple revelation but one that is so profound. People cry for the deeper truths of God’s Word. Here’s one that changed this young man’s heart. God is to him…Papa.