Next time you have the chance, listen to the prayer of a child. The younger, the better. You will hear them praying a blessing over everything from grandpa and grandma to their beloved pet. While it may seem silly to pray for a frog, dog, cat, or hamster, a child takes it seriously. Our adult minds only see the humor in it, rather than find the importance of it.
Parents can discover quite a bit from the content of a child’s prayer. When we find the time to press pause on our hectic life, and really pay attention, there are many lessons we can learn from the simplicity of a child’s conversation with God.
Prayers of Innocence
Children do not have a filter on what they pray. They do not consider anything “too small” or “too big” for God. They just pray. They have the confidence that God can do anything. Jesus tells us that if we have the faith of a mustard seed that all we have to say to a mountain, “Be moved,” and it will be moved. It is amazing to me that we don’t see more mountains moving around due to the innocent prayer of a child.
We can mirror this innocence. Change your “if God answers” to “when God answers.” Imagine what we can do with prayer that has unwavering faith behind it.
Prayers of Purpose
Kids are specific. They can recount details that would convict us in a court of law. That same attention to detail can be reflected in their prayers. That can come out at the most inopportune time. They will pray for concerns that they hear… or overhear. Mom’s “time of the month” or dad’s language from his stubbed toe can be revealed to the wrong crowd. Or within the wrong setting. Much to a parent’s embarrassment children don’t care who is listening. They just pray.
We can learn from this lack of inhibitions. Our prayers need to be open and honest with God. No holding back. No fear. No concern for who else is listening.
Prayers of Timing
I have heard children pray before a meal. There were times when we all hoped our food was still warm when they said their ‘Amen.’ Their lack of an internal clock is something we all could learn from. How many times have you and I rushed over our prayer because of time? We allow only so much time before we need to move onto the next item on our to-do list. Children lack this concept of time. They are not bogged down by schedules the way adults are.
God is not limited by time. He is outside of it. Shouldn’t we give him the same respect with our time? Pray without punching a clock. When we are in His presence, we are on His time.
The Bible teaches us a lot about children and prayer. It is a lesson that came close to the end of Jesus’ life. His disciples ask about who will be the greatest in His kingdom. Jesus brings a child to his side. I can just see the glow in His eyes as He places the child on His lap. He looks to the child, smiles at him, then to His disciples, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 ESV)
And on another occasion, people were bringing their children to Jesus. His disciples were rebuking them, which is basically telling them to go away. Seeing this, Jesus instructs his disciples to allow the children to come, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them. For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 ESV)
This is what it means to have a child-like faith: Children believe without proof. They love without reciprocation. Children give without expecting anything in return and trust without hindrance. Children approach God like a friend, and so should we. There doesn’t need to be concrete evidence, a banner written across the sky, or a booming voice from heaven.
God has given us all that we need, it is up to us to take what we know, believe it, and receive it–with child-like faith. And when we struggle, bring it to the Lord. He wants us to come to him with the prayer of a child, because young or old, we are all his children.