“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him.” (Matthew 19:13 NLT)
When my daughter was about four, I was watching something on TV when I heard this little voice: “Daddy.” Being the spiritual giant that I was, I ignored it for a while, but it persisted. I told her to go to sleep, but it persisted. Of course, I have no remembrance of what was on TV, but I do remember that, in exasperation I ran up the stairs to her room, and in a not too kind voice I said to her: “What do you need?” To which she responded in her little angelic voice: “When you’re here daddy, I don’t need nothin’.” Heart check!
What I would give to have those moments back. I often tell parents of young children that in the season they’re in the days are long, but the years are short, treasure them. I missed so many opportunities because of my busyness/laziness, yet, if I’m not very careful, I do a similar thing with the Lord now.
Remember how proud you were when you finally managed to recite the Lord’s Prayer by heart? Sometimes in our haste, wanting to be “spiritually correct,” and “say our prayers,” we forget the heart of the matter is Jesus. How I viewed my daughter when she was small is much the same as how Jesus views us now, in a spiritual sense.
In my better moments, my heart longs just to be with my Father. And I say, in my spirit, “Father, when You are here, I don’t need nothin’.” The reality, of course, is that He NEVER leaves us. He’s ALWAYS with us. But in our haste to check off all the boxes on our “to do” list, we miss the only One whose attention we really need.
Prayer can become a chore we perform from memory so we can tell our friends how faithful we are to “pray” every day for “X” number of minutes, but what we too often end up doing is saying the same prayer every day without giving a lot of thought to who’s listening. “Prayer” becomes a substitute for genuine conversation with our Father, but the tragedy is, we often don’t even realize it.
Our burdens become unbearable because, while we understand intellectually that God cares, understands, and can help, we often don’t remember to move our concerns from our head to our heart and speak with our heavenly Father about them.
Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “Any concern too small to be turned into prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”
I love that Jesus allowed the parents to bring their children to Him, because the truth is, in a very real sense, we are those children. I’m so grateful the Lord places His loving hand on our heads and He continues to pray for us.
My desire is to learn afresh each day what a gift prayer is, so that I don’t have to ever be saddened by my lack of fruitful time spent with my Father. I want Him to teach me things He wants me to learn, not so I can recite them back to Him from memory, but that my gratitude and appreciation will overflow directly from my heart as I share my love for Him. I’m so glad I’m never a bother to my heavenly Father. Aren’t you?
Blessings, Ed 😊
One thought on “Learning to Pray by Heart”
This is such a great reminder that my time with my Father should never check a box, go through the motion; He desires and longs for me to come before Him.
It’s also a great reminder as a “daddy” that time with my daughter is precious, so I need to be mindful and intentional in how it’s spent and given.
Thank you brother Ed!
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