A Child’s Prayer
May 23, 2023
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15, NIV).
On Friday evenings, my wife and I have a particular schedule. I try to leave work early and meet her at a favorite Mexican restaurant at 5 p.m. The owner always takes orders from a window to the kitchen. Yesterday we greeted him, and my wife let him know we were headed to our Good Friday church service, probing his faith in a natural way. I was pleasantly surprised when he responded, “Isn’t it wonderful when you watch your children beginning to pray.”
What’s so wonderful about watching your child begin to pray?
I know some of it is realizing that the child we love has a new connection with the God who may someday become the Lord of his or her life.
Some of it is the innocence and naiveté of those prayers.
Some of it is a longing that we could once again pray as they are praying.
As children, we prayed believing that God listened and would care for us. We did not question who He was or how He did things. We did not bring up disappointments in our lives where He failed to act in the way we chose, or questions in our lives that shed doubt on who He really was. Does He really hear, does He really care, can He really do anything about this thing I really need? Such naiveté, such innocence before we experienced a life that is now so complicating our faith and prayer.
One of the interesting things about getting older is that I am drifting back to the way that children pray. I have spent my life as an oncologist, father and husband trudging through the questions and complexities of my faith. I am not naïve. I am not innocent.
But I am drifting in my faith and prayer toward that which others have called the “simplicity on the other side of complexity.” I have been amazed by it in the faith expressed by some of my older patients who have nothing in this world, and now I see myself drifting that way.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., said, “For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.”
Life once was simple, and then complex, and now is less complex once more, for now I know more deeply the One to whom I pray. The unanswered questions and dreams-denied confuse my prayers much less than they have in the past, for now I know and love the One who loves me, the One who knows, who cares, who can and who chooses. The One who loves the prayers of children.
Dear Father, Abba,
Let me crawl into your arms each time I pray.