Praying Like a Child
Praying Like a Child
Author Paul E. Miller, in his book, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2009), contends that we can learn a great deal about prayer by observing children. Children ask for whatever they want, over and over again, and for whatever is on their minds. If they hear about Disneyland, they want to go there the following day. They will wear us out by asking again and again.
Children also believe their parents want to do them good. “If you know your parent loves and protects you,” writes Miller, “it fills your world with possibility. You just chatter away with what is on your heart.” Prayer is like that. “To learn how to pray is to enter the world of a child, where all things are possible. Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say yes. They know if they keep pestering their parents, they’ll eventually give in. Childlike faith drives this persistence.”
Miller also reminds us that in addition to asking and believing, the minds of children wander from one thing to the next. They don’t typically stay focused on any one thing for very long. When this happens in prayer, Miller contends that this it not a problem because prayer is a conversation with a real person, namely, God our Father. Since adult conversations often bounce from one subject to the next, why can’t our conversations with God? Miller says: “When your mind starts wandering in prayer, be like a little child. Don’t worry about being organized or staying on task… Pray about what your mind is wandering to. Maybe it is something that is important to you. Maybe the Spirit is nudging you to think about something else.” To be sure, sometimes our minds wander so far astray from prayer that we actually stop praying and start daydreaming, worrying, or fantasizing about doing something wrong. When we come to our senses, we can get back to prayer because God is always there.
I find these basic comments about prayer very helpful and I trust you do as well. They give us the liberty to be ourselves in prayer. When we pray in this childlike way prayer becomes a real conversation. That is what it is always supposed to be.