The kids take turns leading our meal-time prayers. On occasion (as we sit with hands folded over a plate of hot food), this will evolve into an argument over who gets to say the prayer. This argument is followed by a sharp look from mom or dad, then a verbal reprimand, then perhaps tears, concluded with the firm reminder that this is not how we talk to God!!!
I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me; give ear to my voice when I call to you.
Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:1-2 (ESV)
The sound of my kids fighting does not feel like “incense” before our God… hoping the Lord will not “come quickly” to hear petty bickering! (Or that the occasion might be observed by our loving Creator with understanding laughter as opposed to my own exasperated resignation!)
Thankfully, this is becoming less frequent! My 5-year-old prayed at dinner one night last week. She gave thanks for the day and for our food, asked God to be with us – the normal petitions of a 5-year-old. However, tucked in the middle of her prayer was one sentence; a sentence I had not heard her say before: “Do what you need to do God.”
I was floored! An innocent request from a developing mind, but deeply theological, a sign of great faith and trust, and a plea we adults need to utter more often!
After dinner, I checked in with my kids to make sure I had heard the prayer correctly. They both said I had. I told my daughter I loved her talk with God – it was simple and beautiful! Then I gave my 9-year-old a task: find a Bible verse which speaks to this sentence. I wrote it on the marker board: “Do what you need to do God!”
I then had to leave for a meeting. When I returned home only a little while later, I found this:
My son had discovered (with a little help from my husband) the story from the night of Jesus’ arrest. Jesus, faced with imminent persecution and death, sat in a garden. With his friends nearby, Jesus prayed that God’s will might be done.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (ESV)
Do what you need to do, God! I trust you! How timely, at the beginning of Holy week, to remember this moment. When these words are read on Good Friday, will my son hear them a little bit differently? Will he understand the trust implied in those words, and how that moment might be a lesson for how we pray, and what we cry out to our God?
A dear friend reminded me very recently how important it is to use the Lord’s prayer as a guide for our own prayers. (Matthew 6:9-13) Jesus instructed us how to pray… when we use those words as an outline, our prayer does not include a request for our own will to be done. We ask for God’s will to be done! These words are easy to recite in church each week, but more difficult to do in the real world. We cling so hard to what WE want, to our plans, to our image of what our lives should look like. God has bigger and better plans than we can even imagine. Our job is to simply trust!
For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (ESV)