Our Church’s children’s ministry does something pretty cool. They setup a prayer wall where students can write down their prayers and we as a staff can pray for them. I love what they write:
“Dear God, Please help my soccer season to go well this year with no injuries! Jesus name Amen!”
“My cat died Friday. Amen”
“Dear God, Please don’t let my bro get hurt or sick.”
I don’t know why, but I used to think that I couldn’t pray about silly things… as if I shouldn’t bother God with the little details of my day: the test I didn’t study for, the girl problems, the acne I have on my forehead which has just grown to the size of a dime just before picture day, etc… but after reading these prayers it reminded me of a simple truth: everything matters to God.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” Jesus says in Matthew 19:14. In a world where the pecking order was: men, donkeys, women and children; Jesus is making a great statement. The disciples were indignant, “why are we wasting our time with the bottom of society?… they eat, they sleep, they poop… that’s it…. they don’t add anything to our cause…” That’s exactly the point. They can’t earn it. They are accepted because they are helpless, why? because everyone, no matter how big or small, matters to God.
This is why I love the children’s prayer wall. It reminds me that our prayers don’t necessarily need to be the most theological or the most articulate. Our prayers reflect the kind of relationship we have with the One who receives the prayers. Secondly, prayer is a gift. Anyone can pray, my prayers are not anymore effective as your prayers. In fact, your prayers might be even be more effective than my prayers. It’s why I love the prayers of people who aren’t “professional pray-ers”; they are usually raw, honest, genuine, and simple. I believe it all honors God. I used to be self-conscious of my prayers, but I’m learning not to worry because as we grow in our relationship with Him we begin to pray differently.
The other day I was at a Walgreens at 11 PM. Kate had just given birth to our baby girl, Evangeline, a couple of days earlier and I needed to fill a prescription. First of all, if you have ever been to a 24-hour pharmacy late at night, it’s like Disneyland. The line for the pharmacy snakes around the store with periodic signs that tell you how much longer from “this point.” Standing there hoping to waste time by checking Twitter, I saw a child and his mother having a conversation. By conversation I mean, it was more like a hostage negotiation. The child wanted a toy sword. You can feel the tension building in the line by the men’s cologne. Mom said, “no”, so the child starts to throw a fit and says the inevitable, “BUT WHYYYYYYYYY?” I don’t know why the “why” always has so much emphasis in these situations. Regardless of how mom was going to explain it, from the vantage point of the child, there was not a legitimate reason for him not to have this sword right now. It was quite the spectacle, we’ve all seen it, and I prayed to God that I wasn’t looking at my future knowing full well that this could be me in the next few years.
I think we do this with God. The truth is, “we don’t always get what we want” as theologian/ Rolling Stone/ Knight Sir Mic Jagger says. Why is that? Is it because this mom doesn’t love her child? of course not. For whatever reason, mom says, “no”. Does this “no” mean that she never gives her child gifts? Of course not. Does this “no” mean that she doesn’t love her child? No. Sometimes this “no” might be a, “not now”.
I read a tweet the other day that said, “as a 25 year old the things I asked for as a 20 year old are now a burden”. #truth. Looking back on my life I’m really glad God didn’t give me everything I wanted when I wanted it; Danielle Fischel (Topanga from Boy Meets World) would have made a terrible girlfriend. When we pray, we hold our requests with open hands open hands trusting that the perfect Father knows best, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask. So I say, “pray away”, no matter how big or small your request is, everything matters to God, and as you grow in your relationship with God, may the shape and substance of your prayers reflect the growing trust developed over the weeks, months, years and decades of your spiritual journey. Amen.