“For a Christian, to pray is simply to say ‘Abba’, to say “Papa”, to say ‘Dad’, to say ‘Father’ but with the trust of a child.”
Those words of simple encouragement to trust were at the core of Pope Francis’ commentary on the Lord’s Prayer during the January 16,2 2019, General Audience in Paul VI Hall.
“God looks for you, even if you do not seek Him. God loves you, even if you have forgotten about Him,” the Pope said. “God perceives in you a beauty, even if you think you have squandered all your talents in vain.”
The Holy Father made it clear that prayer can be simple and always comes back to a single word: “Abba.” And, yes, “Abba” means “Father”, but most in the context of “dad” or “papa.” And it is in that context that Francis commends the Christian to speak with God.
“It is not only about using a symbol – in this case, the figure of the father – to link to the mystery of God; it is instead about having, so to say, all Jesus’ world poured into our heart,” Francis explained. “If we carry out this operation, we can pray the Lord’s Prayer with truth. To say ‘Abba’ is something much more intimate, and more moving than simply calling God ‘Father’.”
The Pope pointed out that the Gospel uses the term “Abba” in only a few occasions. It is Aramaic, as opposed to the Greek translation of Father than is typically used. But the Greek doesn’t capture the deeper sense of the word. The Holy Father explained:
“It is rare in the New Testament for the Aramaic expressions not to be translated into Greek. We must imagine that in these Aramaic words, the very voice of Jesus Himself remains as if “recorded”: they have respected Jesus’ language. In the first word of the Lord’s Prayer, we immediately find the radical newness of Christian prayer.”