[The following is adapted from Live Prayerfully: How Ordinary Lives Become Prayerful]
I recently bought a bigger pickup 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 dramatic nosedive, 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).
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 tire fixed. After it was finished, and as I was buckling my little boy back into his car seat, 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 any daddy’s day. In fact, that conversation took place more than a year ago, so I guess I can say that it didn’t just make my day, but made my year.
Out of the three ways of praying that we have explored this week, and which are explored further in Live Prayerfully, I grew up most accustomed to this third way, praying with my own words. Although it was the most familiar to me when I was younger (and there’s a good chance that’s also the case for many of you reading this), 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 practices for which I had longed for for years.
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,” for me, becomes something that can actually be described as a relationship.
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 it’s 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 loving father and his children. So, if things between God and me are 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.
A Prayer for the Day:
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.*
A Prayer for the Week:
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.*
*From The Book of Common Prayer
[This is part of 40 Days of Prayer: Daily Emails for Lent]