Note: I am honored to have a special guest writer on the blog today. I hope to continue occasionally inviting guests to share in this space, as I believe there is great value in the Body of Christ hearing from many voices, not just mine. Special thanks to Sandy Outlar for graciously agreeing to be the first of these guests!
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” Oh! the simplicity and sincerity of a child’s prayer. Their expectations are high, and doubts are low, when they speak to their heavenly Father. Such a child-like faith in praying reminds one of the setting in which Jesus had a mixed, generational audience (Matt.18). His topic was believing, and His illustration was the robust receptivity of children to believe He was Jesus. The call to action was to have people lay aside their complicated lives in pursuit of life in Christ. In ourselves we have more questions than answers and that can lead to the conclusion that life is a mixed bag of options, so spin the wheel and see what comes up. Sometimes it is good and sometimes not so good and all the while we ignore the source of all security and serenity, our times with Jesus. There are those of us that “have been around the horn”, as believers, enough times, that prayer becomes more of a performance or a fetish rather than a fresh and adventurous opportunity to be with our Father in a listening and conversational mode. And then there are others who are soured on praying for some of the following reasons: “My prayers are not answered.” “Why do some people relish in answered prayer and I don’t?” “Does praying really make any difference?” Prayer is more than a wish list or a “curb side pickup”. It is more than a perfunctory repeating of spiritual phrases. True prayer is a personal, special engagement with one’s Father. The Lord’s prayer is really a template for tasting the personal, powerful and practical relationship between the Almighty and His children. Eugene Peterson, in the book Earth and Altar states, “A failure to pray is not a harmless omission; it is a positive violation of both to the self and the society.” The model exampled by Jesus (Matt.14:23,24) was one in which He regularly found a place to talk with His Dad. It was setting where he could mediate and mourn, moan and rejoice; an oasis of spiritual refreshment and reassurance. An affirming that “Father knows best”. So, maybe we should ask the children to do the praying while we the parents do the “Amen-ing”.
Dr. Sandy M. Outlar Ambassador to Christian Schools Lancaster Bible College Our Father in heaven, let Your name remain holy. Bring about Your kingdom. Manifest Your will here on earth, as it is manifest in heaven. Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less— And forgive us our debts as we forgive those who owe us something. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. But let Your kingdom be, and let it be powerful and glorious forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 (The Voice)