Maggie is three. But she’s an old soul and a very young fresh-from-God soul at the same time. This was her prayer one night last week:
“Thank you that Adam and Eve repented and got to go up to heaven.” Then, when she finished praying, she said “Yeah, I just didn’t really plan on saying that. I just thought of it.”
She’s learning every day and it doesn’t get past me that some of us old people need to be engaging in a lot more unplanned prayer. Sometimes we forget that prayer is not merely a habit we form of communication with the Father, but it is also a living expression of our evolving thoughts, petitions and praise to the One who has the infinite power to listen to all of His children, all over the world, at all times; to hear us as if there were only one of us (I wish I could have had that power when mine were small!) and to answer us in keeping with the very best eternal interests of each one of us. This is not like the rote recitation of the pledge to the flag. It’s not reminiscent of the early twentieth century morning quotation of the “Lord’s Prayer” in schoolhouses all over America, although that’s an idea that was not a bad one. It’s more like Hannah at the temple crying out for a son (1 Samuel 1). It’s like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—firm in their resolution that God was able to deliver and yet firm in their own resolution to be true to Him even if he didn’t (Daniel 3). It’s more like Jesus on the cross commending His spirit into the hands of God (Luke 23:46). It’s you and me, asking for whatever it is that means the most to our hearts, expressing the trust that He is Sovereign no matter what assails us, and giving our all into His hands. That’s the kind of communication that flows freely, unencumbered by memorization or strict ritualistic form. It’s the praise of a grandmother when a child puts on the Lord in baptism. It’s the prayer of a mother over the specific ills that have befallen a sick child. It’s the cry of a parent who is watching an adult child walk through a dark valley of betrayal and/or abuse. It’s the silent heavenward whisperings of a care-taking child watching a faithful parent deteriorate and die a thousand deaths on the way to glory. It’s the wailing cry he hears from His child when the dearest on earth has left for the arms of the One who is interceding. It’s the petition for help from the Infinite One when navigating a path that seems busier and more overwhelming than a single person can even record on a calendar or spreadsheet. And all of this, of course, is far more raw than rote.
It’s “Yeah, I didn’t plan on saying that, but I just thought of it.” This is being still and knowing (Psalm 46).