I’m secretly jealous of well-behaved children who sit like little adults and will lead the group in prayer before we eat dinner.
Because, truthfully, its been a struggle to teach my kids how to pray. I still haven’t figured out how to get them to sit nicely, fold their hands, close their eyes and bow their heads while we thank God for our food. No, every single time, they are taking bites, slurping drinks and giggling at each other throughout the pre-meal prayer. And before bed, they are suddenly overtaken with uncontrollable wiggles during our prayer time, usually resulting in a wrestling match, mid-prayer. Every time Benjamin or I ask Ezra or Calla if they want to pray, they say no.
And just when I’m ready to scream from frustration, God sends a breakthrough.
By inserting the words, “And Ezra wants to pray for…” into an already going prayer, a whole new world opened up! Ezra started to pray. Simple, sweet prayers like, “thank you for mommy and daddy and my sister.” Then Calla followed his example by praying “for everybody in the whole world.” Ahhhhhh…
And each day I catch another glimpse of the way God is working in my children’s hearts by the way they pray.
”Thank you God for houses and food and toys and my blankies and grass and trees and a mom and dad and sister and my whole family.”
”And be with Titus and Tristan and Justus and Aunt Sarah…and make those three boys and their mommy not get sick…ever.”
”Thank you God for what you gave us and I think we should give some of our money back to you.”
”God, why don’t you just go ahead and change everybody’s hearts and defeat Satan forever.”
”And be with the kiddos who don’t have a mommy or a daddy to watch over them.”
”God, you can change anybody’s heart…change Satan’s heart and make him not a bad guy anymore.”
”And I’m sad about people who don’t have clean water to drink.”
”God, you are so powerful, you can get rid of all the sick in the world…so you should do that.”
”And please help all the people in the world who are hurt or sick or who are not hurt or sick…even if they’re a bad guy.”
Ezra prays like he’s talking to a person next to him…he’s in a conversation. He prays to Jesus like he has His full attention, like he’s the only one in the world talking to Him. He prays with full confidence that God is able to do anything he asks. He prays without guilt or obligation or limitation. And he is teaching me so much about how to pray.
Oh, I’m so thankful for the kids God gave me. And I’m thankful for the realization that He is teaching them and working in their hearts in ways that my imperfect parenting can’t and isn’t. Ben and I aren’t alone in this…God is actively parenting and investing in our children, both through us and in spite of us. And our prayer for our kids is that God continues to work in their lives and that they remain open to His hand.