My children pray the simplest prayers.
“Lord, thank you for this wonderful day and thank you for Daddy coming home safely and thank you for a good day at school and thank you for Wyatt having a good soccer practice and thank you for Sam and JB having a good soccer practice and Isaac having a good horse riding lessons and…..”
“Lord, thank you for a great day we had with our friends and thank you for getting new shoes and thank you for Mom letting us all pick out something at the store and thank you for yummy pizza and could you please help us do good in our games tomorrow, could you please let each of us play our best and try our hardest and could you please help us to love you more and do the right things for the right reasons…”
My lips often turn up at the sides during prayer time as I listen to my children’s simple prayers. Sometimes, though, when I’m tired and I just want them all put away and out of my space, I roll my eyes, then feel guilty, but not too guilty, then squeeze my eyebrows together, then relax them because I don’t want to carve my Grand Canyon frown line deeper, and try to engage my soul into their worshipful litany and not worry about my hot tea downstairs on the table getting cooler or my chilled wine (on one of “those” days) getting warmer.
Other times I worry I’m not teaching them to pray. Their thanksgivings and requests can seem so self-centered; staying within the confines of our home. Is this how I sound when I pray? Just a list of thank-you’s and pleases? Where is the plea for the hungry? Where is the heart-felt offering for the friend in need? Never mind the fact that they pray nightly for one another, offering up the mundane in faith. Still I ponder it: I guess they aren’t with me during wee hours of the morning. Certainly I don’t read my secret cries scrawled across journal pages for morning devotion time. I’ve prayed over them in their times of distress. I’ve even asked my older boys to pray for me in those moments of mornings when it’s only 8:30 and already I’ve lost my temper, slammed a door and started school full of contempt. Maybe I’m not doing enough. Maybe I’m doing too much. Maybe I should wring my hands and furrow my brow and fret over spilled milk. Yes. I’m sure that will help.
Then, last night as they prayed, a new thing happened. Rather than feel impatience or guilt or worry, I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of their praying. Oh what infinite blessing; that these prayers should be on their lips at all! Their lives are so innocent, their minds so light – heaven’s kiss brushed my forehead. Quite unexpectedly, I found myself living in the middle of a sweet fragrance wafting beyond upstairs walls, out into eternity, straight into the presence of I AM. There was a quiet I heard but strangely the quiet came from within. Day in and day out, I live with inner noise. But in that moment – while my child prayed his simple prayers – I lived in the presence of God Most High.
“Amen,” he said. I kissed cheeks and gave bear hugs still in my moment. They chattered about Saturday’s soccer madness (which sadly was canceled due to flooded fields), pre-celebrating their future greatness. I smiled and teased with them still in my moment. I shut off the lights and walked down the hall and though it had begun fading, I was still in my moment.The mind that comes to rest is tended In ways that it cannot intend: Is borne, preserved and comprehended By what it cannot comprehend.
(from: “Another Sunday Morning Comes,” A Timbered Choir, by Wendell Berry)