“Now I lay me down to sleep…”
“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food…”
Those are a couple of the rote prayers many children are taught to pray as an introduction to prayer growing up.
But what I really love are the heartfelt prayers of little ones. When my children were young, we didn’t teach them the rote prayers, but rather taught them to pray from their heart. I was often tickled by the prayers of my youngest son. They were so honest. He never sensored his thoughts or hid his fears. Nor did he aim to impress or worry about his vocabulary or what people would think.
My youngest son offered up genuine prayers from his heart that left no question where his thoughts were “in the moment”!
Thank you for my mommy and my daddy and my whole family. That you for roses and flowers. Thank you for hot dogs and strawberries. Thank you for ketchup and for You. Thank you for the letter “z”, which is my favorite letter. Thank you for all the letters. Thank you for fans and for forks. In Jesus Name We Pray, Amen.”
I smiled throughout, which must have tickled him pink (or red, since that is his current favorite color), as I know his eyes were wide open the duration of his prayer. I could practically “hear” his eyes bouncing to and fro around the room as he decided what else he was thankful for in that moment.
I can’t honestly say that I can recall the last time I thanked God for hot dogs, strawberries, ketchup, or forks. But I am thankful for a little boy who never stops teaching his mother that we always have something to be thankful for.
Philippians 4:6 reminds us to be thankful for everything: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
The above prayer is representative of the prayers of my son when he was in his early elementary school years. Sadly, his prayers have changed and they are much more predictable now, thanking God for our meal, our family, and our day. While there is nothing wrong with his current prayers, it makes me question what happened along the way to quench his wide-eyed wonder and gratitude for all things big and small. It is the prayers of my own children that move me to consider that which I might otherwise filter in my conversations with God. But as I’ve seen the change in my children’s prayers, I also wonder about the change in my own prayers.
When I was a young child and we would gather in big family gatherings, I remember that my grandmother used to love to hear me pray. Looking back now as an adult, I’m not sure what it was about my prayers that delighted her so, but I remember being asked to occasionally pray out loud in front of the entire extended family, and being nervous that I would somehow let her down.
As a child, I was very quick to take all my concerns to the Lord. Instead of worrying, I was quick to tell Him what I needed, and to thank Him for His answers. But somewhere along the line, my prayers began to change. I continued to believe wholeheartedly that He would answer if I prayed for you. I also firmly believed that He would answer if you prayed for me. But somewhere along the line, I began to listen to the lies of the enemy who convinced me not to bring my own needs before the Lord.
Maybe you’ve heard those lies too:
“Your needs aren’t as important.”
“You should be praying about others instead of yourself.”
“What right do you have to ask God for anything for yourself until you get your life cleaned up?”
“Asking for anything for yourself is selfish.”
“Your anointing isn’t as great, so God won’t answer your prayers as much as He will answer hers.”
“You need to get cleaned up before you come to God in prayer.”
“Others pray better than you.”
Friend, we’ve got to realize that one of the enemy’s greatest weapons against us is to make us doubt effectiveness in prayer. If he can keep us from praying, he’s won the battle. Our Heavenly Father has not told us to clean ourselves up before we approach Him.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT).
He delights in our prayers, and even more-so when we will come with faith as a child: But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT).
He isn’t looking for loquacious impressive prayers. Rather, He’s looking for honest prayers that connect our heart with His.
Thanking God for You, my children with heartfelt prayers, forks, and so much more!
Because of Him,
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