Pray Like a Child

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Any person who gives serious consideration to a study of the Bible must learn to appreciate the paradoxes it contains. Unfortunately, skeptics and enemies of the Word of God often point to these as alleged unexplainable contradictions which they assert proves Scripture is not of supernatural origin. These claims are not sufficiently substantive to disprove divine authorship, but can be used to illustrate how different the perception of man is from the perspective of heaven on a given subject. For instance: consider how Jesus said getting ahead in life is accomplished by putting yourself last, and in order to be great an individual should serve others instead of trying to get others to serve him/her. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

Another paradox not always appreciated is the command to grow and mature, but at the same time remain child like in certain areas. The New Testament contains many imperatives to grow and mature spiritually, including “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus even patterned proper growth in all areas of life—physical, emotional/mental, intellectual, and spiritual: “the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” and later, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:40, 42). Christians must advance the status of spiritual babies who only drink “milk”, that is basic doctrines, and move on to partake of “meat”, that is the more advanced themes of Scripture. Hebrews 5:12-14 expresses it perfectly: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

However, Peter admonishes: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3). Jesus answered the query of the apostles in this manner: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-4). Evidently, there are ways and times when acting like a child is proper, but at other times acting childish or immature should be reprimanded. Perhaps, the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:20 provides a concise summary of this idea: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

Humility, trust, and unconditional love are all traits children frequently posses which should be a part of the lives of all servants of God for their entire lives. Another aspect I enjoy observing in children is their gratitude, and I know I need to express more in my daily life. Kids sometimes pray for every person and animal they can think of in a genuine manner. Some might give thanks for their toys—dolls, tractors, or other playthings. Humorous expressions and funny anecdotes emerge from their little minds and out their little mouths, but their sincerity is not in doubt. I wonder if my prayers sometimes are just filled with the empty phrases/vain repetitions Jesus condemned in Matthew 6:7? I wonder what would happen if I took the time to look around and see all the little things that kids see and give God thanks for those? I believe I would be blessed, my prayers would be more meaningful, and my connection with my Heavenly Father closer. Are you acting like a child? Acting like one might be a good thing or it might be a bad thing. Act like a child and pray and give God thanks for everything every day!