Why Child-like Prayers Work

I’ve never seen a child eat with so much enthusiasm. Like a squirrel to an oak tree, Caroline had moved from across the kitchen to my side. A tug on my leg induced me to pick her up and plop her onto the counter beside me while I carved up the fat, green watermelon. 

“Mmmm. Mmmm,” she purred, eagerly watching as I raised the knife and split the striped orb in half. Before I could cut the first slice, she had reached an eager hand into its wet, pink center. I handed her a bite-sized morsel. Cramming it into her mouth and chomping down, she squirted a pink river down her chin and onto the front of her t-shirt. “Mmmmm,” she said again, reaching for another piece. 

We sat there for a while, me cutting the watermelon into tiny pieces and she happily eating them. Finally, her tummy full, she wiggled to the edge of the counter so I could set her back onto the floor. Off she ran, satisfied and happy. 

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, in Live a Praying Life, describes a similar situation. “A child simply assumes that the need or desire is potent enough to speak for itself. All that is required is to bring that need to Mom’s or Dad’s (or Gigi’s) attention. The request assumes the answer. The child’s only thought is to bring the need to the source of supply.” 

Her observation made me realize that I often treat God as a reluctant giver instead of an abundant provider. Caroline helped me better understand God’s heart toward me. 

When I realized Caroline was hungry, I eagerly met her need. My supply was abundant, and I fed her with a liberal, generous hand. I didn’t resent her request, nor did I find it burdensome. In contrast, it made me happy that she came to me. She trusted me to satisfy her desire. I loved feeding her. 

God the Father feels the same way about us. He invites us, nay, expects us to bring our needs to him. His supply is ample, and his heart benevolent. He smiles when we push back from his table satisfied and happy. 

It’s no surprise, then, that Jesus told his disciples, “. . . unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 18:3). 

Dean writes, “You don’t need to build a theological case for why God should want to meet your need. He wants to meet your need because He’s your daddy, and you are the apple of His eye.” 

Father, forgive us for treating you more like a deadbeat dad than a generous father. Help us trust you with the eager, sure confidence of a little child. When we forget, remind us that you are a father who loves to give good gifts to his children. Grow our faith. Show us your ways. Lead us ever deeper into the ocean of your love. In the strong name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

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