Pray Like a Cheetah

 My granddaughters are fascinated with all things nature. This morning we were reading a National Geographic book about wild cats. 

“And then the cheetah sneaks up on his prey and pounces. . .,” I read.

“But Gigi,” three-year-old Caroline said, “how do cheetahs pray? Like this? ‘Dear Jesus, pwease help me catch that antelope’” 

As the three of us burst into giggles at the mental picture she described, I wondered how in the world I would explain to a preschooler that prey and pray are homophones—words that sound the same but have different meanings. 

Instead I decided to ride the wave of laughter and save the grammar lesson for another day. “Maybe they pray, ‘Dear God, please send me two rabbits, a coyote, and a beaver. And two mice for dessert,’” I said. 

They burst into giggles again, picturing a cheetah on its knees praying for its dinner. When their laughter subsided, I introduced a new thought, “You know, animals don’t have to pray for their food. The Bible says, ‘The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God’ (Psalm 104:21). God feeds them. He feeds the birds, too. And best of all, like the lions and the birds, He feeds us.” 

Moments like these give me a chance to share truths about God with my grandchildren. They also remind me of what I occasionally forget. 

Matthew 6:8 says, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pray about my needs. It means that once I have prayed, I can leave my requests in God’s hands, confident he will provide. I don’t have to beg, petition, build a case, or defend my request. God calls me simply to ask, like a child coming to a benevolent parent when she’s hungry. 

Yet sometimes I forget God is eager to meet my needs. 

Matthew 7:9-11 poses a question that spotlights how ludicrous it is to ask God to provide and then doubt He will: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” 

Shame on me for doubting. 

I pray and fret, and pray and worry, and pray and cajole. What a shameful picture I paint to the watching world. A daughter with a legitimate need (notice I said need) approaching her loving Father as if he were a deadbeat dad. 

Father, forgive me for the times I doubt you. For the times I fail to trust your character. You don’t deserve my skepticism. You’ve met my needs all the days of my life. Through sickness, job loss, and financial challenge. Remind me to ask for what I need with confidence, knowing your generous and gracious heart will provide everything in your timing, according to your riches, and for your glory. In the strong name of Jesus I ask, Amen. 

As the girls and I continued to read, we turned to a two-page spread of the cheetah standing over the prone body of a large animal. 

“Look, Caroline,” I said, “the cheetah caught a big giant antelope for dinner.” 

“Wow, Gigi,” she replied, “God musta known he was reeeeeealy hungy.”

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  1. Don't you just love the inquisitive nature and the innocence found in little children Ms. Lori. I think that's why I enjoy serving in Children's Church so much; they make me feel young again. Filled with joy and wonder. I too ask forgiveness often for failing to share my needs with Him; even though He already knows. For me, it's the frustration I feel for giving something over to Him; only to take it back so I can work on it in my own power a few more days. I'm sure He must lean over the Jesus and ask "Will this guy ever get it?" Enjoyed the post, as always, ma'am. And least prey/pray didn't involve transitives and intransitives. Try explaining that to a three year old. :-)

    1. You know, maybe this is why the Bible tells us we need the faith of a child. For kids, it's all black and white. Believe or don't believe. Trust or don't trust. May all be more childlike in our faith, J.D.

  2. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Hello Lori. Thank you for this perfectly timed message. What a cute story! I feel this same doubt when asking for things. Occasionally worrying that I will get what I want, but that it will come through a difficult trial and not be served up on a fancy dinner plate. This fear causes me to NOT ask for things.

    1. Oh my, yes, I understand completely. Only trust in my precious heavenly Father to do what's best for me enables me to ask with confidence. Lord, help us trust you more! THanks for chiming in today.

  3. An interesting lesson! I've often felt the need to defend/build a case for a prayer, and I try to avoid it. God knows our hearts.


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