Prayer Hands

Four Prayer Lessons from A Child

If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what is best, how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts to those who ask Him?
Matthew 7:11

The Importance of Praying like a Child

To truly know the heart of God, we must pray. Prayer doesn’t need to be perfectly scripted, but it does need to be genuine. God wants us to come to Him in truth, sincerity, and humility. 

Reflect on how our own children communicate with us. As mothers, we are to be our children’s safe haven. When they need help, they should be able to freely ask us for what they need. 

In the same way, we are free to come before God to make our requests and desires known to Him. 

It is and has always been God’s yearning to share His thoughts, His promises, and His guidance with us. And so, because of God’s incredible grace through the cross, we have the freedom to enter into God’s presence through prayer wherever we may be. So let us not squander this amazing gift, but use prayer as the powerful gift that it is! 

We have the freedom to come to the Father with the same boldness and humility that our children have when they come to us for help, guidance, and comfort. Let’s learn to pray like a true child: with simplicity, courage, and a heart for others.

i. Pray with Humility

When a child asks for something, they are asking from a place of limitation. By asking for what they desire, children are demonstrating their humility. They understand, “I want something, but am unable to get it on my own. In order to get such a thing, I must be willing to ask.”

A willingness to ask is exactly what God is looking for. Prayer is one of the most humbling actions we can take before God. We need the help of our heavenly Father, who is always listening and always willing.

"Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not."

Does God already know what we need? Absolutely! Then why is prayer so important? Because it is an act of submission. Prayer reminds us that we cannot do this life on our own. Through prayer, we are admitting to God that we need Him. We need His provisions, His wisdom, His grace. 

Oftentimes, God is holding our blessings in His hands, just waiting for us to ask for them. When we pray, we do not inform God of what we need, for He already knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Rather, we conform to God when we pray.

Skip Heitzig also puts it this way, “In His sovereignty, God has voluntarily linked Himself to human cooperation.”  Meaning that God does not need us to pray but loves it when we do. Because our heavenly Father longs to hear from His children, He patiently postpones His plans for our lives until we kneel in surrender, with praying hands.

God is aware our earthly limitations. The greatest of physical determination (or the best productivity tips on the internet) fail in comparison to what God can perform when He chooses; for “the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (I Corinthians 1:25).

Are there people out there who live great lives though they’ve never prayed a day in their life? Yes, many non-spiritual people have gone on to make great names for themselves. But God doesn’t want us to live great lives; He wants us to live miraculous lives. And miracles can only occur through the power of a humble prayer life.

2. Pray with Shameless Audacity

In Luke 11:5-8, Jesus teaches a parable about a man whoin the middle of the night, knocks on the door of a friend’s house asking for food . The man’s request is answered because of his “shameless audacity”. Jesus told this parable to teach a lesson on the importance of shameless (or persistent) prayer. 

The Greek word in this parable anaideia is often translated as “persistence”; however, the direct translation means “without shame” or “a boldness that casts off social restraints”. When we come before God with our prayers, we should be unashamed in what we ask for the way our children are in their requests.

Children are really good at asking for things. From infancy, a baby cries by means of communicating their wants and needs. When a toddler learns to talk, they shamelessly ask for everything under the sun. 

“Kiss, kiss, kiss,” my two-year-old begs ten different times on an average day. A kiss is reasonable, and something I enjoy giving to him without a fight. But, of course, it’s different when he asks for ice cream first thing in the morning. Or when he demands every toy on the shelf at a store. Though my answer is not always yes, my toddler shamelessly asks anyways. 

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”
Paulo Coelho

James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” If we are not taking our prayer life seriously, how can we possibly blame God for the state of our own lives or the state of our world? Though God may not always answer our requests when we want or how we want, there should be never be any fear in coming to Him. We are not unknown citizens approaching a distant dignitary, but rather, children drawing near to “our Father.” So regardless of the answer, a child of God should shamelessly pray anyways.

3. Pray with a heart for others

Children demonstrate their selfless nature when they ask on behalf of their siblings or friends. 

Just the other day, my infant daughter was crying in her car seat. As I was struggling to soothe her, her older brother piped in, “Song bug.” Puzzled, I looked at him through the rearview mirror. “Baby sister wants song bug,” he confidently informed me. Reaching back, I pulled down her musical caterpillar to trigger its soothing lullaby. Surely enough, her crying stopped instantly. I looked at my son through the rearview mirror once more. “See, baby sister wanted song bug.”

If my two-year old is able to verbalize his infant sister’s needs to me, how much more should we be communicating the needs of others to God? 

To come before God on the behalf of others is an act of love and selflessness. When we pray with selfish motives, our prayers will not be answered (James 4:3). But when we generously intercede for the life of others, we have confidence that God hears and answers these prayers (1 John 5;14-15).

God wants us to come to Him on behalf of our spiritual family members as well as on behalf on those who do not yet believe. “Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion” (I Timothy 2:1).

Did you know that Jesus interceded for all believers the night before His crucifixion? In John 17, Jesus prays a beautiful prayer on behalf of His disciples. In this prayer, Jesus pleads with the Father for all believers to be unified as one. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one” (John 17:20-21). 

Jesus, whose life is the perfect model for us to follow, demonstrated His selfless love hours before His death. He spent His final hours in prayer for the complete harmony of His disciples. for you and for me to be one. 

When we are at a loss of what to pray for, we can always remember Jesus’s desire for God’s children: perfect unity.

4. Remember to Listen

Communication between people is a two-way exchange that involves expressing oneself and listening. So why should it be any different with prayer? My children are really good at asking, but they often neglect to listen to my response. A lack of listening frequently results in misunderstanding. 

As an illustration, my toddler will ask most mornings, “Go to the park? C’mon, go to the park, mommy.” My response is often, “Not right now…” Boom! Before the last word even leaves my mouth, a temper tantrum emerges, creating frustration for us both. If my son had continued listening, he would have heard, “Not right now, bud. We can go this afternoon instead.” 

Listening can be challenging for both children and adults. As Frank Laubach put it, “The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen” and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him your ideas.”  

In modern Western culture, meditation has gone from a spiritual practice connecting us closer to God to a mainstream fad promoted by social media influencers. Meditation has become more stylish than spiritual. 

The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen” and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him your ideas.
Frank Laubach

Regardless of cultural ideas, quieting our hearts to listen to God should be vital in our prayer lives. Here are three helpful ways to listen to God:

  • Read the Word of God daily
  • Consider God’s Creation through quiet time in nature
  • Meditate on the Scriptures (explore this wonderful guided meditation)

To really listen, we must make an intentional effort to not just hear what God is saying, but to take it in, understand, and apply the Truth to our lives.

Let Us Pray Like Little Children

As children of God, communication with the Divine Father is needful, essential, and powerful. We connect with God by humbly making our requests known. interceding for others, and listening to the Spirit’s perfect response in our hearts. 

It’s important to remember that God may not say yes to everything we pray for. We should shamelessly talk to Him anyways. All in all, prayer is less about what we get and more about deepening our relationship with the Creator. 

Like little children, let us be both gentle and bold in speaking to our Father, who so longs to hear from us.  

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