Often we carry unresolved conflict towards our earthly father or father figures that can hinder us from intimacy with God. Sometimes, there still lies unconscious hidden core pain from our father relationship within our mind, will, our emotions (the soul). Hidden core pain can result from a father’s spoken insults, broken promises, outright rejection, demeaning looks, disappointments, grief, or abandonment. These FATHER ISSUES can influence our ability to fully trust being intimate with the heavenly Father. Our image of Father God has become shaded by our image of our earthly fathers as we transfer to Father God many of our feelings about our earthly fathers.
How we see Father God determines whether we can receive love, security, acceptance, rest, comfort, provision, and healing in His presence. Even a small flaw in our earthly father’s character can distort our ability to receive in Father God’s love. These flaws – great and small – create some of our deepest problems in receiving God as a loving Father! No matter how much your earthly father provided for your physical needs, if you did not feel safe, secure, and comforted by his love and his presence, then you may feel Father God is far off.
Many children have desired for their fathers to meet their need for love, praise, and acceptance, but instead they feel like they have received rejection or nothing in return. It depends upon the type of father they had. There are different characteristics of fathering that can be categorized into six basic father types. Most fathers do not fit neatly into one category, but are a blend of two or three characteristics. Each of these characteristics can help build a specific stronghold of thinking in the heart of a child that hinders him from receiving (experiencing) Father’s love as an adult.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (strongholds – habit structures of thinking, fortresses of thought). We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; parenthesis added)
The Good Father
There is no doubt that being raised with a loving, caring, nurturing father is a great blessing. But there is no perfect father here on earth. The smallest weakness can be blown out of proportion in the thoughts of a little child. Broken promises, times the father was working and not able to be there when you had a crisis, not comforting you when you were afraid, your father’s inability to provide for all of your physical needs – moments like these can leave very subtle issues of hidden core pain or disappointment. Later in life, he becomes the lens by which you see the heavenly Father. Or it may be, as an adult, that you find difficulty in releasing yourself from the safety and security you have found in relationship with your good father in order to make the heavenly Father your source of love and security.
How can you know if there may still be a connection (negative soul tie) to a good father that is hindering you from deeper trust and intimacy with the heavenly Father? Is one or more of the following symptoms at work in your life?
- Do you not feel truly at rest in the loving Father, and are you unable to practice His presence throughout the day?
- Are you a mature leader in the church but get so caught up in “works” that you do not see this as a subtle cover-up for a lack of intimacy and passion with the Father?
- Do you have areas in your relationship with God where you cannot fully trust Him to meet your needs for financial provision, healing, rest, comfort, forgiveness, compassion, affection, etc.? Was your loving earthly father able to meet that particular need, or was there a time he disappointed you or let you down in that area?
- Do you still struggle with some type of fear? In that area, was your earthly father there for you when you struggled with that as a child? Perfect love casts out fear… (see 1 John 4:18)
Sample Prayer For Release From A Good Father
“Father, I come to you in Jesus’ Name. I thank you for the blessing that my father has been in my life. But I know I have to let go of him so that I can find my identity as Your child. I place my father at the foot of the Cross. I choose to forgive him for each way (speak it specifically) he misrepresented the heavenly Father’s love. I forgive him for the times he disappointed me or broke promises to me. I forgive him for the times he was too busy for me when I needed him most. I forgive him for the times he did not comfort me when I was hurting. I let go of my father being my source for security, comfort, and identity. I release those expectations at the foot of the Cross. Father God, I now have nowhere to go but to You. I come home to You. I choose for You to be my home, my Father, my source of love, security, and comfort. Reveal to me your Fatherhood over my life.”
The Performance-Oriented Father
This father type has high standards and demands for certain behavior that are not tempered with large amounts of affection and verbal affirmation. The high standards may be in sports, schoolwork, religion, or demands for obedience. He may use the words, “I love you.” Yet, he makes you feel his displeasure toward you by condemning your failures. He may try to motivate you to do right by pointing out your failures instead of giving praise. High standards with no room for failure creates a wounded child. They can create a lie in the core thoughts of a child that carries over into his adult relationship with God: “I only belong and am loved and accepted for what I do and how well I do it!”
Christian homes very often are performance-oriented and the parents rarely realize how deeply it runs within the family. The lie of performing for God’s love and approval drives the family to try to earn deeper levels of God’s love by striving to dress right, act right, and do right. The truth is, we can only come to God with the humility of a little child with nothing to offer Him but our need for His love and comfort. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any more than He does right now. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any less.
What are some of the possible symptoms you may find in your relationship with God if you still carry hidden core pain or unresolved conflict from a performance-oriented father?
- You may feel that God is only pleased enough to have relationship with you when you are praying enough, reading your Bible enough, and doing all the right religious things. You may have developed an ungodly belief that performance is required for intimacy with God.
- Your motivation toward trying to enter into deeper relationship with God may be because you feel that you always fall short of matching up. You end up battling with self-imposed guilt and self-condemnation and feel that God is constantly accusing you and pronouncing you guilty.
- You may battle fears of failure and rejection or the fear of man (what people think). You do not know how to be at home with God, to be still and find contentment and rest in His love.
- Your relationship with God may be based upon hyper-religious activity and spiritual ambitions – willing to strive to become more spiritual or to be included in the company of those who are honored or recognized for their spiritual maturity or gifting.
- When you read the Bible, you focus more on the Scriptures that speak of truth, righteousness, and judgment than you do on love, forgiveness, compassion, and grace. You tend to be critical of others who are not as disciplined as you are. Your heart easily hardens toward others who do not think like you or perform up to your expectations.
The Passive Father
The passive father is not actively involved in your life. He is usually a self-absorbed individual who did not or could not think of your needs. He is not able to rejoice when you rejoice or grieve when you grieve. You probably do not experience intimacy (in-to-me-see) with him because he is not able to share his feelings or have interest in yours. He is usually non-emotional, stoic, and unable to weep or to play and laugh with you. He may say the words, “I love you”, but it is difficult for you to believe it because of the lack of quality time, affection, affirmation, and emotional intimacy between you. This father type is usually caught up in his own thing: possibly a workaholic, alcoholic, military, or minister.
What are some of the possible symptoms you may find in your relationship with God if you still carry hidden core pain or unresolved conflict from a passive father?
- You may have difficulty believing God is actively involved in the everyday affairs of your life. He seems far off and impersonal to you. You know God loves you, but you may feel He is not looking to demonstrate His love to you personally in a tangible way.
- You may find difficulty in experiencing the tangible manifested presence of God (anointing) during worship, ministry times, or personal time with Him.
- You may have difficulty hearing the still small voice of the Holy Spirit as He comes with the spirit of conviction leading to repentance. Motivation toward character change does not come easily, or you are not even aware of your need for healing and transformation.
- Your relationship with God may be built upon duty or power and not upon an experience with His love. You often grow weary of trying to maintain any Christian experience or walk.
The Absentee Father
This father type was not there for you or was not involved in your life because of divorce, death, abandonment, or outright rejection. You may have forgiven him to the best of your conscious ability, but inside, you may continue to struggle with a great void of fatherlessness of which you are not even aware. It is the emptiness of feeling like a spiritual orphan – never having a safe place, a protector, someone you can go to for comfort, affection, security, and affirmation.
What are some of the possible symptoms you may find in your relationship with God if you still carry hidden core pain or unresolved conflict from an absentee father?
- Some people carry many of the same symptoms of those with passive fathers. They are non-emotional, stoic, and have great difficulties with intimacy. Life for you may be very serious and intense.
- You may have a fear of drawing close to God lest He abandon you, also.
- You may feel neglected by God, that He spends time with others but not with you. Sensing the loving presence of God becomes very difficult.
- You may lack the faith for God to provide for your needs, so you develop a life of independence and self-reliance which can lead to aggressive striving and inner loneliness.
- You may carry hidden guilt and blame yourself for your father’s leaving. Hidden guilt can lead to us performing to earn love and acceptance in our relationship with God but we always seem to fall short, causing guilt to increase. Or, we may go to the opposite extreme and have no motivation toward God at all.
- If your father died, oftentimes there is hidden anger against your father for abandoning you. It can be helpful to pray out loud to forgive him for leaving you when you needed him so much. There can also be hidden anger at God for not saving or protecting your father’s life.
The Authoritarian Father
This father type is a legalist, and there is very little love in law! He majors on truth and the letter of the law but has little ability to express compassion, mercy, grace, tenderness, patience, or love. He may be tender and kind with those outside of his household, but is rigid and unyielding with his own children. He does not let you develop your own individuality or think for yourself. He is not able to be interested in your desires and goals, only his own. He is more comfortable with obedience and truth than with love and intimacy. It is not that he doesn’t love you, but he does not know how to express love. There is very little emotional bonding.
What are some of the possible symptoms you may find in your relationship with God if you still carry hidden core pain or unresolved conflict from an authoritarian father?
- Your image of God may be similar to that of your father, believing that God is harsh and impatient with you and that He is ready to judge every mistake you make. This can leave you with an unhealthy fear of God that hinders intimacy with Him.
- You may live with such a fear of failure that you end up in self-denial and self-deception. You blame others for the things that go wrong; for to admit fault means that you are broken and deserving of harsh treatment.
- You may build your relationship with God upon the Christian disciplines, but lack substance in the areas of intimacy and loving relationships.
- You may read the Bible and focus on all of the verses concerning holiness and righteousness, but breeze past verses about grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.
- You may be intolerant of other Christians who do not think like you, lacking grace for their weaknesses and faults.
- Your witnessing, teaching, or preaching may be based more upon judgment than upon love, mercy, and grace.
The Abusive Father
This father type inflicts deep emotional pain by means of one or more of the following:
- Physical abuse may come from harsh, unjust punishment or beatings.
- Emotional abuse may occur from harsh and fearful tones of voice, devaluing words, demeaning looks, or from failure to meet the basic emotional needs of a child for expressed love, security, praise, and purpose.
- Sexual abuse may occur from any kind of wrong touching within the areas of the sexual organs, or from improper, sexually explicit language.
Any kind of abuse from a father figure results in some of the deepest wounds that a child can receive, sexual abuse being the worst. It destroys your trust in male authority and a healthy image of a loving God. You are often left with large amounts of repressed anger because of the injustice that life has brought you. You may feel that you are inherently a bad person and deserve to be punished, thus you battle frequently with guilt, unworthiness, and shame. You may have no motivation toward the joy of living. Counseling alone is often not enough to bring lasting freedom. You may need a supernatural encounter in Father’s love in your deepest area of need before intimacy with God occurs.
What are some of the possible symptoms you may find in your relationship with God if you still carry hidden core pain or unresolved conflict from an abusive father?
- You may feel that getting close to God is very difficult because you fear being punished again. You have tried praying enough, reading enough, and doing all the right things, but you are left feeling guilty because you can’t find Him the way others have claimed too.
- You may feel that God is always angry with you and is looking for any reason He can find to make life hard on you.
- You may be angry with God for not protecting you from an abusive father, not realizing that Satan was the author of your childhood pain, not God.
- It is very difficult for you to believe that God loves you. The ungodly belief you have developed is, “If God loved me, He would have given me a different father.”
- You may struggle continually with self-condemnation and a sense of shame, feeling too unclean to approach God.
- You may find it very difficult to relate in a healthy way to spiritual authority in the church. Because you reject fathering relationships, you feel fatherless within church structures, therefore, spiritual growth comes very slowly for you.
What Is Required For Healing To Begin? Forgiveness
Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; then the King will desire your beauty; because he is your Lord, bow down to Him. (Psalm 45:10-11)
Be willing to forgive your earthly father for each area in his life where he failed to represent Father’s love. If you are not willing to forgive, then you may end up getting your identity from the pain and disappointments of your earthly father’s house.
You may have been innocent of the wounding you experienced in your father’s house, but you are accountable for every area of your life that has not gone well as a result of your dishonor (disrespect) toward your father. Honor your father and mother… that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:2-3). Healing begins when you take personal responsibility for your problems and do not seek to blame others for them.
Many people feel wounded because they feel that their fathers have never blessed them. Father God wants to impart to us the blessing even as He blessed His Son at the River Jordan, saying, Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased (Mark 1:11). Father also wants to affirm us for being His children. See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. (1 John 3:1)
When we release our earthly fathers and begin to come to Father God as a little child in need of a father’s love, we will begin to receive increasing revelation of Father’s love that is more powerful than any father issues we have carried through life. He will not ignore our cry for a Father. No longer do we have to surrender ourselves to the wounds within our father’s house, for Father God is calling us to come home to Him.
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up… The Father of the fatherless… God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity… For in Thee the orphan finds mercy. I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely… (Psalm 27:10; 68:5-6; Hosea 14: 3-4)
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… He who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will Myself to him… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. (John 14:18, 21, 23)
For the Father Himself loves (in Greek – phileo, which means naturally demonstrated affection) you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father. (John 16:27; parenthesis added)
Sample Prayer For Healing From Father Issues
“Father God, I come to you in Jesus Name. Thank you that the door to Your house is always open to me and I do not have to fear Your loving presence. You tell me in Psalm 45:10 to let go of my identity connected to my Father’s house so that I can enter into Your love. I come to You as a child in need of Your help so that I can release and forgive my father.”
- Choose to forgive your father for each way he hurt and disappointed you. Be detailed in speaking specific words of forgiveness for each moment of wounding that comes to mind. It is very helpful to have someone experienced in healing prayer ministry to pray with you through these areas.
- Ask God to show you any specific memory that still influences your thought life, attitudes, or actions. Ask Jesus to enter into that situation and bring comfort to the hurting child. Be still and quietly wait on God’s love to touch that area. Let the verses about God’s love and comfort come to mind in order to displace distracting thoughts.
- Lay your father at the foot of the Cross and release him. Lay at the Cross the pain, the anger, the bitterness, and the disappointments. Now turn and walk away.
- Renounce the striving and fear from your earthly father’s house.
- Turn to Father God. “I have nowhere to go for love. I know the door to Your house is always open. You said that You would not leave me like an orphan. I ask You, Father, to come to me now and reveal Your love and Fatherhood for me. I choose to receive You as a Father to me. I choose to be Your child.”
- Begin to pray, or have someone pray over you, the scriptures about Father’s love for you. Meditate upon them throughout the day.
- Put in soaking music and let the message of Father’s love penetrate your heart as you sit quietly meditating upon His love for you.
- Ask Father, “Do you love me?” and then journal His love letter to you.