In 1988, as a new believer in Christ, I recall listening over and over to a beautiful Maranatha praise album entitled “Abba” (see below for links to these great songs which will stir your heart to cry "Abba") which was introduced with these words: “This album…centers on a word of worship which comes from the lips of Jesus our Saviour, a word which God holds very dear. This word is Abba. Abba is one of several words of worship adopted by every nation, people and language…Wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ goes, so goes this word of worship. Abba belongs to the family vocabulary of the people of faith throughout the world.” God promises believers "I will be a Father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to Me" (2Cor 6:18-note) And because of the "great love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God" (1Jn 3:1-note), we can now cry "Abba! Father!" And yet do we fully understand the incomparable privilege we have as adopted sons and daughters to confidently cry out Abba to the Almighty God? Martin Luther well said that “There is more eloquence in the words ‘Abba, Father,’ than in all the orations of Demosthenes or Cicero put together!" Spurgeon adds that "Adoption gives us the rights of children (Gal 4:5, 6, 7-note), regeneration gives us the nature of children (Jn 1:12-note): we are partakers of both of these, for we are sons. Nobody can cry, “Abba, Father,” but by the Holy Spirit. They are such heavenly sounds as only the twice-born, the true aristocracy of God, can ever utter, “Abba, Father,” words that even move the heart of the Eternal God (Ge 21:33NIV-note). So, when we are born again, “Our Father, Who art in heaven,” (Mt 6:9-note) is a prayer that is never forced upon us, but rises up naturally within the new-born nature; and because we are born again we cry, “Abba, Father.” When we have lost our Father for awhile (cf Job in Job 13:24-note with Job 42:5-note, David in Ps 13:1-note), we cry after Him in the dark. When He takes the rod to us we cry (Heb 12:5-11-note); but we cry no other way than this—“Abba, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Abba Father is an eloquence you can use now. It is one which when you cannot speak a word which might move an audience, shall still remain upon your tongue to move the courts of heaven! You shall be able to say, “Abba Father."
Abba is an Aramaic word which according to the Jewish Talmud, reflects some of the first words an infant learns to say, crying “Abba.” Over time Abba became a word used by adult sons and daughters to address their earthly father and even today in Israel, children often address their father as abba. R. Kent Hughes notes that while "Abba meant something like Daddy, (its use to describe God conveys) a more reverent touch. The best rendering is “Dearest Father.” Harold Hoehner adds that while we as “Believers may address God with the endearing term (Abba) because He is "our Father," (we) should never use this term in the spirit of unsavory familiarity but with the full acknowledgement of His majesty.” Abba speaks of intimacy, tenderness, dependence, security and confidence in the Father's loving care. Hughes says the truth "that God is our Abba, Father is one we must cultivate for the sake of our soul's health." Indeed, when we can cry "Abba" even on our darkest days, we are saying in essence that we are willing to trust our Father's heart even when we cannot trace His ways.
Abba is used 3x in Scripture (Mk 14:36-note, Ro 8:15-note, Gal 4:6-note), each use being in the form of a prayer, each time as a cry, each cry enabled by the indwelling Spirit and each use followed by the Greek word for Father (pater). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus "deeply grieved, to the point of death" (Mt 26:38-note, Lk 22:44-note) prayed "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You. Remove this cup (symbolizing God's wrath against sin) from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36-note). While this is the sole record of Jesus' crying Abba, all scholars agree that the common language of Jesus day was Aramaic, making it very likely that every time He addressed God as Father (60x in Gospels), He did so with the Aramaic word "Abba." The lone exception is when Jesus cried out on the Cross “My God, My God. Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mt 27:46-note), at that time when He was made sin on our behalf (2Cor 5:21-note), resulting in His momentarily being forsaken by His Father, so that His brethren might never be forsaken by their Father! Hallelujah! However even after this time of separation, Jesus’ last cry was “Father (Abba) into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this, He breathed His last.” (Lk 23:46-note)
Thus even with His dying words, Jesus chose to entrust Himself fully to His Abba, Father, leaving us an example to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21-note). Indeed, when we are in severe trials or afflictions, we too can approach Abba, Father in complete confidence, childlike dependence and absolute assurance that He will never, ever desert us or forsake us in our moment of need (Heb 13:5-note). Do you believe this beloved? When Jesus cried Abba and yielded to His Father's will, "a new and living way (was) inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. (Heb 10:19, 20-21, 22-note, Mt 27:50-51-note, Mk 15:37-38-note). Because Jesus cried "Abba," now all who have been adopted into His family can approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16-note) with the same confident cry, for we "have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but (we) have received a spirit of adoption as sons (and daughters) by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Ro 8:15-note). In ancient Israel slaves were never allowed to call their master as "Abba." As Spurgeon says "No man can speak with God as God’s children may. Distance is the slave’s place; only the child may draw near. A very sweet fact is that (Abba! Father!) is literally the cry of the Son. "God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" and the Spirit cries in us "Abba! Father!" exactly according to the cry of the Son." (Gal 4:6-note) Slaves do not crave the presence of their masters; it is sons who long to be with their father. You are a true son of the Highest if you hunger and thirst after God (Mt 5:6-note)."
John Piper adds that "the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to change our slavish fears toward God into confident, happy, peaceful affection for God as our Father....We enjoy emotionally the Fatherhood of God by the testimony of the Spirit. The testimony of the Spirit is not a premise from which we deduce that we are children of God; it is a power by which we delight in being the children of God. Don't Wait for a Whisper – Look to Jesus! (Isa 45:22KJV-note) If you want to know that you are a child of God, you don't put your ear to the Holy Spirit and wait for a whisper; put your ear to the Gospel and your eye to the Cross of Christ and you pray that the Holy Spirit would enable you to see it and savor it for what it really is."
Spurgeon adds that "this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, and not stilted and formal. We are to be very affectionate and come close to Him, and not merely say "Pater," which is a cold Greek word (for father), but say “Abba,” which is a warm, natural, loving word, fit for one who is a little child with God, and feels the freedom to lie in His bosom and look up into His face and speak with holy boldness. Abba is but a babe’s lisping. Oh, how near we are to God when we can use such speech! How dear He is to us and dear we are to Him when we may address Him in this manner, saying, like the great Son Himself, “Abba, Father." (Mk 14:36-note) When we cry “Abba” even our very cries are full of the spirit of adoption. We are satisfied to offer to God words salted with our griefs, wetted with our tears. We can go to Him with holy intimacy and be not afraid to cry in His presence “Abba, Father.” (Abba) implies a fervent cry, not a flippant utterance nor mere words on our lips, but a cry that comes up from the depths of our soul. We cry after Him (Ps 57:2-note), our heart and our flesh cry out for God (Ps 34:17-note, Ps 119:145-note), for the living God (Ps 42:2-note, Ps 84:2-note), and this is the cry “Abba, Father, I must know Thee, I must taste Thy love, I must dwell under Thy wing (Ru 2:12-note), I must behold Thy face (Ps 11:7-note, Ps 17:15-note), I must feel Thy great fatherly heart overflowing and filling my heart with peace (Ro 15:13-note). If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can cry! There is heaven in the depth of Abba! Father! There is all that I need! All that I can ask! All that my necessities can demand! All that my wishes can desire! I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, "Abba! Father!” Our first birth makes us sons of Adam, our second birth makes us sons of God. Born of the flesh, we inherit corruption; we must be born of the Spirit to inherit incorruption. We come into this world heirs of sorrow because we are sons of the fallen man: our new life comes into the new world an heir of glory, because it is descended from the second man, the Lord from heaven."
Hughes adds that “The idea that God is our Father, our Abba, is not only a sign of our spiritual health and of the authenticity of our faith, it is one of the most healing doctrines in all of Scripture. Some grew up only with a mother and no father. Others grew up in conventional homes where the relationship with the father was negative at best. (Ed: I understand this for, my biologic father deserted my mother when I was one year old, and my stepfather subsequently abused me verbally creating an environment of fear & lack of acceptance.) But whatever our background, we need the touch of a father and our God wants to provide that (Ed: Something that I finally gloriously experienced at age 39 when I was born again and the Spirit impelled me to cry "Abba! Father!" knowing I forever had the Father I always needed, Who would never desert and word always accept me in the Beloved! Eph 1:6KJV-note). Some of us need to bow before God and simply say, "Dearest Father, Abba" and so find the wholeness and healing that He wants to give us.” Amen. He is able! (Heb 2:18-note, Heb 7:25-note, 2Ti 1:12-note).
As the words of James Deck’s hymn declare “Abba, Father!” We approach Thee, In our Savior’s precious Name; We, Thy children, here assembled, Now Thy promised blessing claim. From our sins His blood hath washed us, ’Tis through Him our souls draw nigh, And Thy Spirit, too, hath taught us, “Abba, Father,” thus to cry.” Hallelujah! Amen!
Let us pray even as C H Spurgeon prayed “Our Father, we bless Your Name that we can say from the bottom of our hearts "Abba, Father.” It is the chief joy of our lives that we have become the children of God by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and we can in the deep calm of our spirit say, “Our Father, Who art in Heaven." Lord, we thank You for the liberty which comes to our emancipated spirit through the adoption which You have redeemed us to enjoy. O God, we would not change places with angels, much less with kings of the earth. To be indeed Your sons and daughters—the thought of it brings to our soul a present heaven, and the fruition of it will be our heaven, to dwell forever in the house of the Lord, and go no more out, but to be Your sons and Your heirs forever and ever. O God, we thank You that by the Spirit, we have access to You. By the Spirit, we perceive our adoption and learn to cry, “Abba, Father.” By the Spirit, we are made partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4-note) and have communion with the threefold, holy Lord” through the Son Who first cried "Abba." Amen and Amen.
May these Songs stir your heart to cry "Abba! Father!"
Hillsong's "Abba Father"
Abba 18 Songs to the Father - 1988 - Over 50 minutes of songs to Abba
Below are individual songs from the album "Abba"
We Approach You (Medley):
Abba Father (Short Version)
Abba Father (Long Version)
My God and Father:
You Are Our Father:
We Are One In You (Medley)
Father Make Us One:
We Being Many:
Hallelujah My Father:
The Servant Song:
Father I Adore You: