“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,
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
Hearing your youngest son’s prayers when he was little made me chuckle, too, remembering the prayers from that age of my oldest son. I remember that one day he thanked God for the salt! And as a grandma, I am just positive that your grandma wanted you to pray in front of others because she thought your young heart’s prayers were refreshing and adorable, just they way we found our little one’s prayers to be.
Thank you for this post and for the reminder that prayer doesn’t have to be long, flowery–it just needs to be heart-felt and honest. Last year, I started writing three things that I was grateful for each day–this year I’ve been trying to consistently write at least five things each day. And yes, the list at times is simple (example: chocolate!). This practice is helping, I think.
I’ve done something very similar, although I challenge myself to be original with my list each time. There’s too much of God’s goodness for me to have to repeat very often. But sometimes the simplest things (like chocolate!!) are the most heartfelt! He loves it! He created all good things for us to enjoy! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I really enjoy reading your posts. Yes, the enemy is hard at work isn’t he.
I have learned to pray and give thanks daily. Praising Him, even with little songs that children learn at Sunday school. I start singing and the sadness or despair that was trying to take over my spirit disappears.
And I know the Lord loves to hear from us.
I’m thrilled you enjoy the posts!
Praying, giving thanks, praising is the very best thing we can do in the midst of warfare. He loves to heart what’s on our hearts, as simple or as elaborate as it comes tumbling out. He just wants our genuine self before Him. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
My oldest is serving a volunteer year at an orphanage in Guatemala – and while visiting her last week, she asked me to pray instead of her, as my Spanish is better. We laughed about how we are sure God understands either language, or any version of both we come up with. But of course her worry was the native speakers she was praying in front of. Flying home I thought of the prayers she said as a child, and how she would pray with the neighbor…how sad we lose our confidence that any prayer is OK – our Jesus makes it so!
Isn’t it sad how the enemy can worm his way in and make us insecure of our prayers? God isn’t looking for the perfect prayer or the perfect pray-er. He just longs for us to be our genuine selves. To come as a child…uninhibited, unembarrassed, unencumbered by expectations. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I love that God listens and hears all of our prayers. Sometimes, my prayers are very formal, but, most of the time, my prayers are childlike. I think God smiles when my prayers are childlike, because that is when my prayers are honest and heartfelt.
There’s no “think” about it! God definitely smiles at your honest, heartfelt, childlike prayers…they come in obedience to His call to come as a child. Nothing delights Him more! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
What a good word, Michelle!
I was just reading the other day some of the accounts of Jesus with the little children. He loved children!
Thanks for the reminder to pray like little children – honestly, simply, and with great big faith.
Hope you have a blessed day~
He loved children, and He tells us to come like a child: unfiltered, messy, and real. What a relief! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
The greatest transformation in my prayer life came when I was willing to come before God honestly and authentically, much like children do – with no filter. 🙂 When I laid down the need to “explain” myself to a God who knows everything, but just sought to join my heart with His, then lean in and listen to what He wanted me to hear.
And what a beautiful transformation that must have been in God’s eyes, Tiffany! He wants you, pure you, not the cleaned up you, not the filtered you just YOU. The one He knows so intimately well that He counts the very hairs on your head! Oh how He loves you! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I read a book by Joyce Meyer in which she recommended praying with fewer words and more simply as a spiritual practice. Being a woman who loves lots of words, (the Amplified Bible is my favorite version! ), it was quite a stretch for me, but I found it very liberating.
I think there is a place for both. There are times when my heart’s cry brings Him a long prayer filled with my deepest cries, but then there are other times when short, to the point prayers are all that is necessary. The fact of the matter is that He delights in our interaction with Him on all levels! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
You’re so right, Dr. B, we’ve lost that wide-eyed wonder along the way. I pray that I will more openly share my heart with God — the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, he knows it already.
Thank God that #hopeprevails!
Marva | sunSPARKLEshine
The nice thing is, He’ll open our eyes to more of the wide-eyed wonder if we’ll let Him! So blessed to have you visit again! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Isn’t it just like a child to remind us what our relationship should be like with God through prayer – open, honest and trusting.
My children continuously teach me more and more about the relationship with Our Heavenly Father! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
We taught our kids to pray from their hearts too. Occasionally, especially in the beginning of our journey through parenthood, a rote prayer was used for an example, but then we taught them to pray from their own hearts. Like you, I always loved hearing my children pray. They’re grown up now and I still love hearing the prayers of my children.
I think there is something so genuine about children’s prayers Tina, and when they are our own children, they are somehow a reflection of our heart as well. If we delight in hearing our children’s prayers, how much more our Father must delight in our prayers to Him! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
May our words come tumbling out to our Heavenly Father like the little children Jesus urges us to be in His presence!
Blessed Easter to you, Michelle!
Michele, I love the image I get of words tumbling out the our Heavenly Father. How that delights Him when we run to share with Him! Blessings to you! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I very much enjoyed this post, Michelle. You are so right! Simple prayers that we pour out to Him unsifted or concerned about whether the little details we might include matter to Him are the ones that I know I need to do the very most. They reflect more trust in Him and also represent a confident relationship with a Father who loves me…..no matter what!!
He just longs for relationship, Pam. And I think about my relationships with parents or friends…our conversations are rarely eloquent, and sometimes we cover a lot of territory in the briefest of exchanges. We don’t wait until we have a lot to say or the perfect way to say it before we connect. That’s all He wants…connection at the heart. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I remember when I learned that prayer is simply talking to the Lord and making intimate confession and petition before Him in faith. I also remember reading Hebrews 11:6, those who come to God must have faith in God… because without it we cannot please Him. We need to trust that His Word is accurate and when we pray according to His will He hears us. Even more, He loves enough to beckon us close… as close as His throne. So grateful that He allows us nearer and nearer His heart each time we come.
Oh YES, Dawn! Isn’t that beautiful to know that he beckons us close to His throne allowing us to come nearer to His heart each time? How could anything be more wonderful? Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Great reminder! How we need to pray from the heart and not a rote prayer!
Our Father desires relationship…from the heart. He’s always open to our prayers, but He longs for the heart-connected prayers that bring heaven down to earth into our situation. It’s always for our good and for His glory! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!