I just got back from my family's annual beach vacation. Now I already come from a big family, and when you throw in 30 nieces and nephews and all the in-laws, our vacation looks like it could be a reality show on TLC.
A few years ago, my parents had this great idea that we could pray the rosary on the beach. Now it's become a tradition that soon after dinner each night, we all sit on beach chairs and boogie boards to pray as a family. It sounds like a peaceful and prayerful experience, right?
Did I mention that there are 30 kids there?
At the beginning of the rosary, we always take a minute or two for personal intentions. Without fail, the most memorable prayers are those from my nieces and nephews. Kids' prayers really are the best. They're often strange, sometimes illogical, but always interesting.
Here are some of the best ones I've heard:
- Daniel, a huge Napoleon Dynamite fan, offered a heartfelt prayer last Wednesday for all 'moms who go to college.' (Don't worry, he got in trouble for that one).
- Some of the kids prayed for their sunburn to go away, some prayed to catch larger fish at the pier, and some just prayed that everyone would receive ice cream.
- Asking God to guide the #2 pencil as a kid filled out a bubble sheet for a test he hadn't studied for.
- Hoping that mom would have a boy, praying that God would ignore the kid's sister's prayers that the baby would be a girl.
- Asking for God to bless various animals so that they would be more friendly.
- Praying that God would have a good day.
One time when I was about 7 or 8, I found a turtle. All I could see of the turtle was the shell, but for a few days I kept him in my room convinced that he would soon wake up and walk around once he realized that I was a friend to all reptiles. I should have recognized the smell of death that surrounded my 'sleeping' turtle, but I refused to give up on the turtle until my mom demanded that I remove the dead animal from our house. Naturally, I placed one hand on the shell and asked God to raise the still unnamed turtle from the dead.*
We laugh now, but remember when we were the ones with funny prayers? I think that prayers like these are the best. They reveal two important facts about the people praying:
- They believe that God can do anything
- They believe that God actually cares about their lives
At some point when I grew up, I stopped praying like a kid. Maybe I was embarrassed to ask God for what I really wanted, or maybe I just wasn't so sure He was able or willing to take care of me. I think one of the reasons that Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children (Matthew 19:14) is because children still believe in a God who cares about every little detail of their lives. They are still courageous enough to ask for miracles when everyone else tells them to not get their hopes up.
I hope you still pray like a kid. I hope you still know that God cares about everything you care about and that He actually can do anything. Don't be afraid to ask for big things. Even more than you want God to provide, God wants to give you good things.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.' (Matthew 7:7-11)
*The turtle never resurrected and he (or she) was immediately evicted from our home by my doubting mother.