Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Childish Prayers

building blocks

Every night between lullabies and the plea for another sip of water my two-year old and I thank God together. “Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day...” I begin, and she breaks in “and for planting the flowers.” 
“And for planting flowers” I repeat. 
And so it goes. Together we outline the day before our heavenly Father, though often our remembrances aren’t similar. Children sharing their toys at the playground or fond hopes that the baby will be able to dance when she is older dominate her thoughts, while tasks completed and listening to her little voice singing “I Love You Lord” bring me to my knees. These are the stories of our days, and having watched Thacia play all day makes her little tales dearer to me because I can unite what I saw with what she is thinking, and together we bring it all to God.

It strikes me how many of the famous prayers in the Bible are like these prayers of Thacia’s: People repeating the stories of their lives and histories, tracing the work of God running through their days. I think of Moses and the Israelites standing on the hills, of Hannah and Mary’s Magnificats, and of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple. Consider that most of the holidays in the Jewish calendar are set aside for recounting specific stories and giving gratitude. I wonder: Is it a human need to retell our stories? To re-frame them with thanksgiving? When my husband asks me how my day was, I sigh in exasperation. The girls are cranky, dinner is less than halfway made, and there’s a puddle I hope isn’t body-fluid on the floor. But in the still of dusk we tell it over again, and the thankfulness in our hearts somehow dignifies the day and transforms my memories of it.

I am suddenly embarrassed by my grown-up prayers with formulas for thanksgiving and requests and lists of things I think need fixing. The simplicity of my daughter’s confiding story-telling approach is a challenge to talk to God in the same way she does.  

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