Recently I bought a bigger truck, solely for the purpose of being able to take my kids around with me when I'm doing work on our ranch. I love it when I get to take them. Sure, my productivity takes a dive, but I can still get some things done, and I love having my favorite people (my family) with me at my favorite place (our ranch). Several weeks ago, I had my three-year old son with me on one of these days and on our way out of town driving toward the ranch we had to stop at a tire shop and get a flat fixed. They got it done for us, and then I was buckling him back into his car seat, and we had a short conversation that I hope I never forget:
Me: "I sure love having you with me, bud." Him: "I love having you with me, too, Daddy. I wouldn't want to go anywhere without ya." ...[He thought for a minute as I continued buckling him in]... Him: "If you were going somewhere by yourself, I'd want to catch up."
Now that will make a Daddy's day. In fact, by now that conversation was about two months ago, so I guess I can say that it didn't just make my day, but made my quarter.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a great time with a group from our church on our Three Ways to Pray retreat, where we explored praying with other people's words, praying without words, and praying with our own words. Although I grew up most accustomed to praying with my own words, in recent years I've focused more on the other two ways of praying.
Praying with other people's words through practices like Fixed-Hour Prayer has brought a shape, rhythm, and depth to my prayer which I've longed for for a long time.
Praying without words seems to be one of the most needed practices in my own spiritual life, and probably is for many of us. It's in doing so that what we so often call "a personal relationship with God" actually, for me, becomes something that can actually be described with words like relationship or friendship.
But these comments from my little boy, and the immense joy that they brought to me knowing that they came from a very sincere place in his tender little heart, have reminded me of the power of talking to God in very personal words. For a lot of people, this is a very natural and easy way to pray, but not always for me- at least not at this point in my life.
I don't know if my words to God can have anywhere close to the same effect on him that my son's can have on me, but I would guess that it's similar. It certainly isn't by accident that the writers of Scripture, and particularly Jesus, so often choose to describe our relationship to God as one between a father and his children. So, if things between God and me are that similar to things between my son and me, I need to tell him how much I like being with him.
It doesn't require many words, but I've got to use some.