My wife and I have the same routine with our girls every night. We sing a few songs, read a book or two and end the evening with a quick prayer. Our youngest daughter is only six months old, so she’s oblivious to all of this. Our older daughter is a little over 2 ½, and she is adjusting well to the structure of the routine. She fights going to bed, but as soon as her head hits the pillow, she knows it’s time for books, songs, and our good night prayer.
For the past year, my wife and I have been taking turns praying and gently asking her if she’d be interested in praying as well. Typically, we don’t get much out of her, but recently she has begun to say her own version of what she finds most important during the prayer time.
Our prayers typically consist of a few on-level sentences. This helps her to understand that when we pray, we are thankful for everything that we are blessed to have, and we ask God to be with the people in our lives. Her prayers are a bit different. She prays from a much simpler place… a very sweet place.
Because her vocabulary has not developed enough to form full sentences, she simply lists the people in her life who she wants to pray for. A typical prayer for her consists of four words followed by a fifth, super sweet “Amen” and usually includes Mama, Dada, Ash (herself) and Baby Gray (her baby sister). She’s genuinely praying for them in her own unique way.
It is beautiful to hear.
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
Sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed and need to pray about a few items, I begin my prayer by making a list of the people I am thinking about, thankful for or need help from. Honestly, it seemed silly at first to begin my prayer with just a few words but listing the most important things on my heart has really helped me focus on why we pray. It’s about the relationship with the Father and bringing everything on our hearts and minds to Him.
I encourage you to give this a try. The next time you close your eyes for prayer, begin by making a list of the things that are closest to your heart, the people and things you want to pray for, thus releasing all the semantics and unnecessary words from the process. It’s a great exercise to try.
If you have a child who is starting to pray out loud, you can enjoy hearing their little voices list the things that are most important to them. My daughter understands that she’s praying, and she loves that she’s praying for the things that are most important to her.