His big blues search my hazels for a clue. And my heart is doing the very thing he is questioning.
“But, mom, what are you doing when you pray?
Why do you do it?
How come I can’t hear you when you pray and sometimes I can?
How do you know He hears you?
Are you talking to the guy in your heart again?”
I never would have guessed how much wisdom it takes to explain something so profound in terms a 4 year-old will understand.
Yet that’s what He expects from all of us. To know it so well we obtain the enormous faith a child is capable of.
“I’m talking to God. The One who made me and blessed me with you.
He’s all around us and will even live within us if we let Him.
Don’t worry, He always hears when we call. And stops everything when He hears His name.
God sees our heart. Where our feelings live. So He knows what we’re feeling before we even think it. I don’t have to talk out loud to Him. He knows it before I say it. So really, I’m saying it for me. That way, I know it, too.
I talk to Him every day. As often as I can. He helps me all the time.”
I smile wide and wink when I see his mind spinning, searching for more questions. Knowing he’ll come up with more, my prayers turn fervent. I pray that I can answer them for I have so many questions of my own:
How do I ensure He understands the power behind prayer?
How do I teach Him to listen to His voice?
Should I make him practice praying?
How do I show him the joy behind it?
If I push it on him, he will recoil. Where’s the balance?
And I quickly reflect on Jesus’ life. The example He’s placed before us. The one I strive to portray to this impressionable boy.
Sometimes I forget Jesus was a practicing Jew. He knew and abided by the formalities of ritual. I’m certain He prayed the Shema twice a day. And still He sought solitude. Would go out of His way to have alone time with His Father. Where He could lay His heart open wide and simply be.
It’s this very reason I try to emulate both practices of prayer in my own life. Those structured around ritual and those grafted from pure intimacy.
Friends, we can study to our heart’s content. I have. We can read the plethora of books on the subject. I’ve read a bunch. We can follow all the formulas, acronyms, rituals, written out examples every day and still miss the basic truth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Our God is a God of relationships.
And He wants nothing more
than to have heart-to-heart conversations with you.
Just you. Behind closed doors. Where you can let all your guards down and simply be with Him. Uninhibited.
So how do I show this to my children?
The alarm of sirens lead me back to my present reality. I glance down and see my boy setting his toy down, looking at his hands. I stretch in to hear his whispers, hoping I don’t distract him. And I hear him:
“Dear Jesus, please help the firemen
put the fire out and everyone be okay.”
And just like that he’s back to playing trains.
My throat wraps tight around the newly formed lump. I swallow hard as I hear His response to my unsettled heart.
Friends, my prayers were answered right then. He showed me the way. And reminded me it had been hanging around my neck the whole time…
I don’t need to defend my beliefs or become a Drill Sargent. I simply need to live for Him unabashedly. My smart boy’s watching. I can trust God to do the rest. Why, I can even talk to Him about it…
Father, what a gift you have given us through prayer. This open invitation to linger long in Your presence and discuss what’s pressing on our hearts. Thank You so much for the opportunity You give me every day. I so want my boy to know what a delight it can be. May my life resonate the power of prayer. So much so that he wants it, too. I know what You can do with little, Father. I’m offering myself to You to do just that. Work Your wonder, Lord. Show my boy the way…
How about you, friend? What steps have you taken to teach your child(ren) the power of prayer? What habits have you formed for your own prayer life? I’d love to hear.
Thanks for sharing your time with me.