"The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what GOD is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him" - Eugene Peterson
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
People brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept GOD’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in" (Luke 18:15-17, MSG)
I woke up to some good news today.
My friends from Bridgeway Church had a baby girl. This only heightens my anticipation of the birth of Pastor John and Tammy’s fourth child and also the birth of my close friend’s first child, both due this week. I am also counting the days to see my nephews and nieces at my brothers wedding in Dallas at the end of this month. All these thoughts of children remind me of what Jesus said to his disciples who were shooing people from bringing their children to him: “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me…unless you accept GOD’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
Now, let us take a moment to reflect on the phrase, “simplicity of a child.” We are taught from an early age to look for the glamour and the showiness in things. Any sign of simplicity or plainness escapes our attention. This is true in our spirituality as well. We are attracted to nicely phrased eloquent prayers and so we say, “that’s a good prayer” or “I wish I could pray like that.” But when we see people stutter and pause and express raw emotions and use their everyday language in prayer, we say, “the language needs to be refined” or “emotions need to be filtered.” Sometimes we view our prayers as too simple and inarticulate and so hesitate to pray alone or with others. And because we think like this we shoo others or shoo our self from coming to Jesus.
We need to come back to the simplicity of a child.
Just like children are with their parents, we need to be honest with our own language, experiences and feelings with GOD. For some of us who grew up in church we have the excuse that GOD knows everything and we don’t have to verbalize everything to him. In any given relationship if there is no raw talk, that is being transparent and verbalizing the feelings for what they are, instead of what they should be, the relationship will be affected due to lack of authenticity.
Jesus invites us just as we are. He emphasizes simplicity, not eloquence. He does not desire our ideal self or pretentious self but our broken, contrite, dependent and trusting self (Luke 18:9-14). Few years ago, I realized that somewhere down the line I had allowed my prayers to become sophisticated. My conversations with GOD became well rehearsed and had become very formal and stale. They lacked the rawness and realness. I had been coming to GOD “as someone I wanted to be” and not “just as I was.” I thank GOD for setting me free to approach him as a child approaches his/her parent.
Let us be raw and real with GOD in prayer.
Forget about what you think of yourself or what others might think of you. What is important is what GOD thinks of you. This means that you pray just as you are. You shout when you feel like shouting in GOD’s presence, you dance, you sing, you cry, you express your joy and your gratitude and also your fear, your frustration, your anger and your sadness.
This simplicity of being a child in prayer will strengthen your trust and dependency on GOD, deepen your relationship with others and will keep you from being superficial and hypocritical. In other words, praying like a child will help you in your emotional, spiritual and physical healing and growth.