04 August 2009

the whisper of a prayer

One of the joys that I have found with raising a two-year-old is that she is learning how to pray - to become more consciously aware of God and interact with him. About a year ago we started teaching her to say the Jesus Creed, and it was both adorable and profound at the same time. Now I am finding that with our bedtime prayers, they are sometimes funny, sometimes off-target, sometimes a bit of stalling, but always an open and frank discussion between a child and her heavenly Father.

It has emerged over the course of the past year or so, when it became increasingly difficult for my wife to be able to lay my daughter down without it ending in a long-and-drawn-out battle. So it became largely my responsibility to 'close the deal' and get our daughter to lay down for the night (after a good share of nightly routine with both Mommy and Daddy). And at one point I remember telling her that we were going to 'talk to God' before we go to sleep, and then I would pray over her. And then sometime later on she looked at me and said: 'I want to pray!' So, now we both have our time of talking to God before she drifts to sleep.

These prayers started off as a simple, "God you are good. Amen.'

They stayed that way for quite some time, but lately have been expanding to more conversational prayers. Only once have I been concerned that she was getting away from point, but her prayers can now include a recap of her day, a back-and-forth conversation (Thank you, Jesus . . . You're welcome, Jesus . . .), to a very quick mumble of something before Amen. What is totally consistent is the honesty of a child, who is happy to be in her Father's arms.

And again I am profoundly reminded why we might have been summoned to a childlike faith. Not that we need to be less mature, but that we need to grow young in our faith - undoing the callousness of our hearts and stripping away the layers of cynicism from our spirits. Perhaps our most profound spirituality will come in that single moment when we can talk to God as openly and honestly as this little girl. It isn't about the poetry of our prayers, the crafting of our doctrines, or the systemization of our theology - those things are for Pharisees. It is about saying what is on our hearts and allowing our spirits to connect with his.

Rich Mullins penned: there is this silence in the badlands, and over Kansas the whole universe was stilled . . . by the whisper of prayer

No comments: