“Dear God, please bless me, Mummy and Daddy, and give me a little brother.” Children have a lot to teach us about faith. Jesus Himself said that we must become like a little child to enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 18:2ff). We certainly need a childlike humility and unquestioning faith.
It is only natural and right for a child to mature to adulthood, yet as Christians, we often fail to ‘grow up’, as reflected in our prayer lives. We’ve been given some brilliant models of prayer in Scripture to imitate. Take, for instance, Paul’s prayer for the ‘saints in Ephesus’ (Ephesians 1:3-23).
Paul begins by reminding himself and his readers of all that they are in Christ, then thanks God for them. As we pray for the members of our community – saved or unsaved - let us also first focus on who we are in Christ, thanking God for our community.
Paul’s first request for his friends was that God grant them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that they might know God better. Yes, health, wealth and happiness would be nice … but what could be more central than knowing God better through His Spirit?
Next, Paul prayed that the eyes of the hearts of his friends might be opened in order to grasp three wonderful truths – (i) the hope to which God has called them; (ii) the riches of their glorious inheritance, and (iii) God’s incomparably great power, which was at work in them. Stop a moment, meditate on this request of Paul’s, and make it your own.
In light of Paul’s example, our ‘shopping lists’ of prayer requests fall into perspective. Prayer for a happy marriage is set in the context of each partner truly knowing God. Prayer for financial issues, while valid, pales into insignificance as we focus on our glorious inheritance. Prayer for healing, when mindful of the hope to which we are called, loses its edge of desperation.
Children have much to teach us, but remember – we’re grown up now! Let’s pray as mature Christians, modeling our prayers on the wonderful examples given in Scripture.