Actually, my title is misleading. When it comes to prayer, children much more often seem to “get it” better than adults do. When it comes to prayer, we would probably be more accurate to say, “So easy, an adult can do it.” But I’m only a few sentences in and I’m swerving off topic already. Let me get to my point.
This summer my church’s prayer ministry is teaching a series on prayer in children’s church. We’re teaching the kids everything from the basics (prayer equals relationship with God, the Lord’s Prayer, and intercession), to more advanced (for adults anyhow—maybe not for children!) concepts like listening prayer, perseverance, and inner-healing prayer. I’ve been amazed and encouraged by how easily some of these kids put into practice what they are learning—with faith, earnestness, vulnerability and boldness, no less!
Take, for instance, the little girl who has been praying for a long time about a friend who is mean to her. She told me that at first all she asked God to do was to “make her nicer.” But as she persisted in prayer, she started to realize some things. She realized that other little girl might be nicer if she knew Jesus! So she started praying that her friend would come to know Jesus. But then she realized that her friend might not even have heard very much about Jesus, so she started praying that she would read the Bible so she could get to know Jesus.
Over time, as she persevered in prayer and let God reshape her prayers, her prayers became more mature and others-focused. She told me her prayers are not so “greedy” any more.
It took me many years to learn that persevering in prayer does not mean praying the same (often self-focused) request over and over, day in and day out. Now I realize that part of God’s work is to shape me and my prayers into conformity with His character and plans. I do that by listening to Him, asking questions, listening some more, and hanging in there, even when God seems to be taking a long time. But this little girl already almost intuitively understands these critical truths.
So I have a thought: What if, after we’re done teaching the prayer series to the kids in children’s church, they come and teach the adults to pray in the adult service? Maybe they could make it simple enough that even we adults could do it!