Since school started our family has officially become acclimated with the petri dish better known as preschool. The runny noses are in full force which means I’ve officially become a full-time nose blower as my snotty-noised threenager demands every drop be wiped clean. This less than picturesque scene created the perfect backdrop for me to read my most recent book on my reading list titled, “Beginning a Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller.
I say this because Miller’s main point in prayer is coming like a child. If I haven’t already painted a clear enough picture of a child, please take a moment to think of the children in your own life. Children are messy, unprompted, persistent, needy, and bold. This is exactly how God wants us to come to Him in prayer. What a relief! This revelation quickly became one of those moments when what I know to be true in my head began to sink into the deepest part of my soul. In one simple illustration, my previous perspective on prayer immediately changed. I think most of us know prayer is not a matter of performing or saying the right things or sounding spiritual to achieve the most desired outcome. However, I still think there is a block in many people’s prayer life. I’ve certainly felt like that on more than one occasion, but I find it so refreshing to be reminded that prayer is simple yet extraordinary opportunity to come as I am and ask God to help clean up my mess. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency of holding onto my mess and hoarding all of the grimy details while trying to clean it up myself instead of letting God work with it.
Miller points out that the reason we are hesitant to pray like a child may be for one of many reasons like fear, doubt, or cynicism. He spends a lot of time on the topic of cynicism and sums it up by saying that many of us have lost our child-like faith because we’ve fallen cynical to prayer. We don’t believe that God will show up and we don’t want to risk him not answering so we tend to ask less of Him. However, that’s not who God is. On several occasions, Jesus reminds the disciples that children hold an important role in His kingdom.
In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
When my snotty noise child comes to me repeatedly to wipe his nose I oblige, and I’m humbled by the thought of going to God with my own messes totally and completely unashamed. My son comes to me with no apprehension because he doesn’t question whether I will ignore him or turn him down or give him something other than what he asked for. He simply trusts me because he has no reason not to. This is the relationship each of us has been given in Christ.
Matthew 7:11 says it best, “If then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Prayer shouldn’t be a chore, but a chance to encounter the faithful heart of God.
If any part of this resonated with you and you feel you’ve grown cynical to prayer and wish to reverse the cycle than I highly recommend this book, “Beginning a Praying Life” or its companion,
“A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World” both by Paul. E. Miller.