Some of the most joyful moments with kids come and go quietly in the ordinary, everyday moments of life. Recently in our home, these moments have come when we listen to our little ones learning how to pray. For the past few weeks I’ve been jotting down some of the light, funny moments with our children when we’re praying together. (I've shared a couple of them previously here.) Below are a couple more.
PRAYING WITH KIDS PART 2 ~ WHEN IT’S JUST TIME TO SAY AMEN
We love listening to our 4 year old pray. Josh, though wildly rough and tumble, is also a sensitive boy and often, without any prompting or reminders, asks for God to love and care for others. I'm so thankful to see this desire in his little heart.
But in addition to praying at length for the needs of others, we’ve also sat through lengthy prayers where Josh has first given thanks for numerous animals throughout the world and then, one by one, with detailed precision, prayed that they’d all have food and that they’d all be safe. It's almost as though sometimes what begins as a thoughtful mention of certain animals turns into a rather long, exhaustive, comprehensive prayer of thanksgiving for all the animals he can think of. Safari animals. Jungle animals. Domestic pets. Bugs. You name it, he’s praying for them.
In a similar fashion at meals, Josh doesn't always consider it sufficient to pray that the meal we’re about to eat 'would be yummy.' Instead, Josh has prayed that 'breakfast tomorrow would be yummy, and lunch tomorrow would be yummy, too.' (I’ve enjoyed sweet times of explaining to him that the reason we pray before meals is not to request a last minute miraculous intervention that the food would somehow taste good, but rather a sincere expression of gratitude for what God has already provided.)
On several occasions when Josh has been praying before a meal and his words have wandered far off course and he’s started petitioning for the following weeks lunch or pleading for the safety of panthers, and when we can tell he’s trying to find a way to wrap up his prayer but is having trouble getting to the word Amen, sometimes either Justin or I will help him along and gently affirm the words he’s spoken. We'll wait for a natural pause and then say, 'Amen. Thank you, Joshua.'
Evidently Ella, the 2 year old, has noticed this occasional conclusion.
One night a few weeks back, after bedtime stories and before the final kisses, I was sitting on the floor between Josh’s bed and Jake's bed, with Ella cradled in my arms. Ella snuggled in contentedly, gazing up at me with big blue eyes, her pink and purple soother plugged neatly into her little mouth. (She’s since been weaned from those pink/purple pacifiers of hers and I have to admit, I miss them so much. Babies with soothers are just so cute, aren’t they? Or maybe I’m just clinging to the babyness of the last baby. Who knows.)
On this one night, Jake lay quietly in his bed. Ella was cradled in my arms. And Josh lay on his bed praying aloud. It was one of those prayers that, though sweet and heartfelt, at some point transitioned into a long list of giving thanks for any and all of the things that crossed his mind. I was in no rush to help him wrap up, and was enjoying listening to him pray even though it didn’t seem to be heading toward a conclusion any time soon.
Apparently Ella didn’t share my enjoyment.
At some point during this lengthy prayer of her big brother, I could feel Ella start to squirm and get antsy. I opened my eyes and looked down at her just in time to see her reach up to her mouth, daintily yank the soother out of it and then say to me in a quiet but commanding voice, “Mommy, say Amen.”
I smiled at her but didn’t say a word. Instead, I gave her a kiss and shoved her soother back in her mouth.
And sweet Josh kept praying.
And sweet Josh kept praying.