There’s not a soul on this earth that has taught me more about prayer than my children and grandchildren.
The honest prayers of my precious little ones have moved me to tears more often than I can count. From a very young age we started praying with our children and grandchildren, teaching them how to pray–only they ended up teaching us some powerful lessons along the way:
1.) The only wrong prayer is a flippant one. Just saying words that you don’t mean isn’t prayer at all–it’s babbling. I would rather hear a the honest prayer of a child asking God for a new puppy than an adult spouting a casual prayer that sounds like it came out of a 18th century novel. Our Heavenly Father understands that sometimes we are selfish and whiny, but I wonder if He’s hurt when our conversations are only surface level.
2.) Even the littlest of hearts can have the most faith. Sometimes we assume that God doesn’t want to be bothered with the small stuff. We try to function in our own ability instead of trusting God to give us what we need for the day-to-day. The smallest among us tend to think about what’s most immediate–we tend to miss the opportunities right in front of us because we’re so focused on the “big things.”
3.) Honest prayers sometimes become the most profound. My 4-year-old grandson has been praying often for God to “bless our blessings”. We don’t know where he got the phrase, but I sure stole it from Him as I ask God to bless my blessings, not the least of which are my 5 grandchildren. It’s our honesty with God that allows the real Truth to be revealed.
4.) There is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about talking to God–out loud. Nothing is sweeter than hearing the sound of a child’s honest prayer. Nothing is more moving than praying with someone you love. Personal, private prayer is essential; joining in prayer with another is a powerful force to be reckoned with!
Just the other day, this same four-year old grandson hurt his toe on the bottom of a door and insisted that he needed a band-aid (the cure-all for boo-boo’s), and because he still needed to put his shoes on so he could go to the park, instantly said, “Okay, now let’s pray!” As we prayed for his big toe, tears welled up in this Nana’s heart that at such a young age, he was trusting the Great Physician.
Jan Johnson, in Enjoying the Presence of God, says it this way:
For those of us who have worked so hard to pray the right words that we have no idea what’s in our heart, speaking to God through an action is a relief. We follow our instincts. Instead of planning and plotting, we can be spontaneous. We experience a certain wonder and innocence, much like a small child extending her arms up to her dad and asking to be held. (p.46)
Do you see the awe and wonder that the God of the universe allows us to call Him Father… and delights in the praises of His children? I can think of no higher calling than to make His name known to the next generation. When Jesus prays one of His last prayers before the ascension, He prays for His disciples and “those who believe in Me through their message”:
God, give us the humility and honesty of a child–and as Nolan prays–every single time he prays, “help everybody to love Jesus and love others. Amen.”
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13