Jolie, our barely three-year-old granddaughter, asked me to read to her. She chose a book about a whimsical farm tractor. While I read, she held the book and turned the shiny cardboard pages. The tractor carried on quite a monologue about his “nine–to-five” field work. She skipped some of the pages, not showing interest in mechanical issues. After six pages, the tractor said, “And my dependable motor….”
We didn’t get any further. Jolie closed the book and said, “Amen.” I guess she mixed her closing remarks because she hears us say “Amen” when concluding a prayer and “the end” when finishing a book.
Later that day, she brought me the Little Golden book “Sleeping Beauty.” As I read to her, she tolerated the story line a bit better about a princess, an evil rival and a handsome prince.
Again, when she closed the book, she said, “Amen.” Since then, I’ve contemplated prayer over the “trivial” and larger issues.
In last week’s column I told the true story about a woman who had a pie in the oven and had to leave home to get a sick child from school. The mom had several delays and so she prayed for help to get home before the pie burned.
When small children are learning to pray, they pray about what they know, the intimate details of their family: dad, mom, siblings and pets. When younger, both of my grandsons prayed for their dog Willie long after his demise. At mealtimes, children express fresh faith when they give thanks for rice, water, ketchup, salt, pepper and the dinner plates.
As children-trained-in-prayer grows older, the world encroaches and their knowledge of good and evil grows. As concerns deepen, we’ve witnessed them begin to pray for victims of tragedies. Some adults have told me that they’ve come full circle in their prayer life. While their eyes are open to the rips and tears in the world’s character, they are back in tune with God who also cares about salt, pepper, and rice.
From the Bible, they’ve seen God in the minor details of life. God names stars and numbers hairs on heads. He sees sparrows fall from their nests. He rescues ax heads from deep waters. When he rid Egypt of flies, not a single one remained (Exodus 8:31). When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he asked “give us this day our daily bread.” Far too often, I take the daily crust of bread for granted.
Selfish prayers are described in James 4:3. God is the only true judge of whether a prayer is motivated by selfishness. James says, that type of prayer is not answered “because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
If all aspects of life were governed by good-motivation prayer, this old world might tilt its axis back toward living out the charity of God. What I’m trying to say is that every situation, every moment of every day could use a prayer. If we pray without ceasing and keep our eyes on the Father as he befriends us, we’ll naturally turn to him for big and small praises and requests.
“THE END” would come to many worries if we covered all moments, big and small, with an “Amen.”
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