The Practice of Prayer (2 of 3)
Open Your Bible
Matthew 6:5-13, 6:19-24, Luke 18:1-8, Luke 18:15-17, James 4:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
BY Guest Writer
Prayer is hard because you have to be a child to do it.
Being the father of two girls and two boys, I have had ample opportunity to observe the mind and maneuverings of a child’s character. I’ve noticed over the years three aspects of a child’s character that, sadly, adults often outgrow: honesty, neediness, and persistence.
Parents know it well—that sinking feeling when your four-year-old volunteers unfiltered information about their bathroom habits between bites of roast beef and mashed potatoes while you are hosting important out-of-town clients for dinner. Yep, not quite the impression you were hoping to make. How painfully honest a kid can be!
But that’s not all.
In the last fifteen minutes, I’ve poured a glass of milk, sharpened a pencil, and rescued a matchbox car from underneath the couch for my three-year-old. At this rate, I’ll be interrupted another nine times before I finish this article! His whole existence seems to be one primal cry for help. How demandingly needy a kid can be!
But wait! There’s more.
What parent has not reached the exasperated “buy me candy!” breaking point in the supermarket? The kindly asked “Daddy, can I have some Skittles?” question that meets with a negative response quickly becomes the let-me-have-Skittles-or-I-will-scream-at-the-top-of-my-lungs reaction. All this while every person in the supermarket gives you the “Aren’t you going to do something?!” look. How frustratingly persistent a kid can be!
What I find interesting in today’s texts is that these qualities—honesty, neediness, and persistence—are essential to the practice of genuine prayer. Let’s be clear though. By honesty, I don’t mean to suggest that we speak without discretion and spill our guts to God with raw, or even perverse, language. And by neediness, I don’t mean prayer is a fear-filled wringing of hands at everything that comes our way. And by persistence, I’m certainly not insinuating that we pray like a spoiled kid who hangs on to God’s legs, whining and yelling until we get what we want.
Rather, what I do mean is this: we ought not grow so old that we forget to pray like a child. Instead of the well put-together, self-sufficient, and polite asking that we’re accustomed to as adults, the Father in heaven invites us to enter His presence with the guileless honesty, desperate neediness, and dogged persistence of childlike character.
The reason we can and must pray like a child is because the true child of God, Jesus Himself, signed our adoption papers in His death and resurrection. Though alienated orphans, we became sons of God by faith (John 1:12), and through Christ’s nonstop intercession for us in heaven (Hebrews 7:25), we enjoy close, real, steadfast, and eternal communion with God, our Father.
Let’s take advantage of our identity in Christ, and pray like we’re the children of God. Because we are.
Written By Nate Shurden