How do I experience God as "Abba Father"?

Though I am assured of my salvation in Christ and have been a believer for many years, I have a hard time connecting with God on an emotional level. How do I experience God as “Abba Father”?

We had a special speaker from Israel at our church recently. I thought she was going to be sharing about her ministry there and instead shared how she had moved from an orphan mentality to a Father relationship with God. She proceeded to share some emotional wounds she had as a child. (When she was three she had to be hospitalized and had surgery. At the same time her mother was in the hospital giving birth to her brother. Her father couldn't spend the needed time with her in the hospital because he had to be with her mother as well. She felt very abandoned.) This seemingly small incident had huge ramifications in her life and how she related to God but she didn't recognize it until years later as a mature adult. She had always felt like she had to perform in ministry and do and go and keep going to gain the favor and attention of the Lord. She discovered she had some abandonment issues.

Here are some thoughts she shared:

Our feelings are a pretty good indication that something is going on inside of us. There is a great distance between what our mind tells us and what our emotions tell us.

God wants to redeem our past and make it part of our destiny (who we are in Christ and the relationship we have with God as our Abba Father meaning Daddy).

God wants to bring the orphan out of us and let the Father bring the child home.

The Hebrew word for salvation means having room to breathe. I think of it as being free and relaxed in the Fathers arms.

God wants to redeem our orphan memories. This can happen when we:

  • recognize the fruit (our emotions)
  • recognize the root (asking God to show us the cause of those emotions or lack of emotions)
  • surrender the event or events and submit them to Jesus
  • repent and forgive those who may have wounded us
  • replace the lie (orphan mentality) with the truth (“Abba Father” relationship) by the renewing of our mind
  • break the stronghold this event or events has had on our life by allowing God to redeem them and use them

I encourage you to meditate on the following Scriptures related to the Heavenly Father and your relationship with Him:

  • John 1:10-13
  • Romans 8:22-25
  • Galatians 4:1-7
  • Ephesians 1:3-6
  • Psalm 68:5

Your lack of feeling in relationship to the Lord could be related to some damaged emotions somewhere in your past. It is helpful to evaluate this area (not to cast blame, but to gain an understanding and add insight into why you may be experiencing what you are. Then you can deal with those things that will in turn affect your feelings and emotions.) Perhaps your pastor or a godly friend or Bible-centered counselor will be able to help you further.

P. S. I would recommend the book by Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man. Also, you may find some helpful books published by P & R Publishing at Check out their titles and see if any may sound relevant to what youre going through.

Kathy Norquist works in Ministry Development for Eternal Perspective Ministries, and is also on the EPM's Board of Directors. She was Randy’s executive assistant from 1997-2015, and was also previously one of his secretaries when he was a pastor.