Honest confession. Blame the internet. Blame the scattered brain of a mother of four. Blame space aliens.

I STRUGGLE to pay attention when my kids pray. 

We all pile onto one of their beds every evening at bedtime and take turns in a circle, youngest to oldest. Of course when they’re really little and they first start praying, I linger on every word because it’s adorable. Or, when they’ve just come back from a 48-day hospital stay — yeah, I’ll pay attention then, too. 

After a while? I get used to their words and hearing the same basic things and I get busy thinking about whether the laundry got moved to the dryer — and did I turn it on? Or do I have anything else to do before I can relax this evening or…  

You get the idea. 

Lately I’ve been making better efforts at clocking in — not even thinking about what I might pray after they finish, but just really listening and hearing what they’re saying. 

A few basic things have come to the surface that are so breathtakingly beautiful, and beautifully simple, I want to share them with you.

My kids are very repetitive … and God is okay with that.

Every morning, the sun comes up, and every evening it goes down. Spring makes way for summer, which saunters toward fall, which drifts into winter, and then the cycle begins again. God has chosen rhythms and repetition for so many aspects of His creation.

There is peace and there is beauty in repetition.

In the same way, we perhaps think we need to come up with new ways of saying things — or new ways of praying things — but we forget the beauty of repetition. When we repeat things enough, we memorize them and they are “hidden in our hearts” as one Psalmist put it. We might not remember learning the Lord’s prayer, but repetition is the reason we know it.

It’s a beautiful thing to go to the Lord with the same requests again and again. He is a loving Father and wants to hear from us. Even when it’s not apparent that our prayers are changing our circumstances, we can be confident they’re changing our hearts.

My kids pray with boldness… and God isn’t scared.

I’ve repeatedly heard my children ask God to “wipe the coronavirus off the face of the Earth.” Even the four-year-old makes this request! My kids always swing for the fence.

I believe that nothing is impossible for God, but I find myself crafting my prayers carefully, and trying to have “realistic expectations” and add I qualifiers like “If it’s Your will.” I think sometimes I think about whether or not He’s going to do it before I pray.

But my children ask big. And when it hasn’t happened yet… they don’t seem phased or discouraged. They just bow their heads the next night and ask again.

My kids pray about what they care about… and God loves it.

I have one kid who prays, almost every night, that we’ll have fun the next day. Fun. He loves fun. So he asks for fun.

Why not?

Why not show up with our whole hearts and lay everything on the table? Why do we pray with a pokerface? Or only say the things we think we’re supposed to say?

If we’re feeling distant from God, maybe it’s because we’re only bringing a part of ourselves to the table… the part we think He wants to see.

What if we showed up fully ourselves — because He already knows all our business anyway?

I could say, “Lord, I’m super jealous that that girl got that promotion I really wanted.” And maybe He’d whisper to my heart with that still small voice. “I know that was hard for you — but I have great plans for you, little one. They’re good and they’re for your good. I hope you can trust me.”

Or I could say, “Lord, I’m really mad that you let that bad thing happen to me. Where were you? Why didn’t you stop it?” And maybe that precious whisper would say, “Little one, I was with you through it, right there, as you lay on the floor and cried. I know it’s hard to believe, but I have every intention of working this together for your good. It might be a long time before you can see it. I hope you’ll hold onto me anyway.”

I hope you’ll consider these thoughts an invitation to examine your approach to prayer. Are we swinging for the fence or asking for crumbs from the table?

Are we afraid of being completely honest with God? Do we believe He is big enough to handle anything we bring to Him?

Let’s give this one idea a shot this week: start smiling, and then begin praying, trying to keep that smile on your face. Show up like a child who believes God is the biggest thing there is.

He already knows all of it friends, the good the bad and the ugly… and He loves us anyway.

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