How can you say no to a child who wants to pray? I gave my assent and hoped that I would be able to understand her prayer well enough to give a sincere Amen at the end.
Right away, she bowed her head and all the other children did the same. And this little four-year-old girl began to pray.
“Dear God, I like how Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins. I like how you made the whole world. Thank you for our snack. Amen.”
I nearly handed out the orange goldfish crackers with tears in my eyes. A Bible verse played over and over in my head:
I had just heard a child speak to her Father in words so intimate and so basic and so trusting that I wondered about my own prayers. In all my verbosity, did I come close to this simplicity of love for my Heavenly Father? In all my knowledge, did I come close to this intimacy of relationship with my Heavenly Father? In all my needs, did I come close to this trusting enjoyment of what my Father has already given me?
Some months later, I had the privilege of serving with the same group of children during our church preschool lessons. And this time, the spiciest of the girls, in the midst of her loud laughter and energetic antics, suddenly turned to me and asked, “Do you know dis song?”
Then she began to sing.
“Word, I wif your name on high. Word, I wove to sing your pwaises…”
I listened to the entire song of “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” sung by a child’s tongue. For once, she wasn’t showing off. She just wanted to sing, and this was a song she clearly loved, because she knew every single word.
Lord, what does this sound like to You? Are the angels listening as intently as I am?
The verse that I mentioned above has a context.
But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?”
This was the context: The children saw Jesus for Who He was, and they gave Him the praise that their elders refused Him.
What does a child understand of the mysteries of God? She can’t verbalize the debate about man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty. She can’t proclaim the meaning of the torn temple veil or the Passover lamb. She can’t say much more than my little friend: “I like how Jesus came to die for my sins.”
And God accepts that.
On the one hand, here are the disciples: “Those children will be a nuisance to the master! They’re loud and unclean and crazy…!”
Yet here is God in human flesh, stooping to lift one of His most limited creatures in His arms: “Let the little children come to Me.”
I’m sure theologians could find so much more in this passage than I, but for me, these few sentences mean something very simple. God loves children. He loves being with them, blessing them, and hearing them speak to Him. Rather than requiring some special creed from them, He accepts the simplicity of their faith, and declares further that this is how He wishes to be worshipped.
A child’s faith is very basic: God is good. I am bad. Jesus died for those bad things I’ve done, because God loves me! Is this basic faith worth less than my more complicated expression of faith?
Father, I like how Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I like how you love children and share with me your patience and enjoyment of them. I like how you have taught me through four-year-olds. I can’t wait to meet You face to face in the presence of Your many children!
Share your story: What memorable moment of faith have you observed from a child?
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.