Here's a devotional I just wrote for our church's weekly newsletter:
For the Christian, prayer is profoundly relational. It is, along with the Word of God, the primary means of communion between God the Father and his children. This is why Jesus taught us again and again that we must become like children if we are to be his disciples.
But what does it mean to become like a child in the presence of God? That is the subject of the fourth chapter of Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (NavPress, Colorado Springs: 2009). The chapter is entitled “Learning to Talk with our Father,” and in it he suggests that we become like children in prayer “[b]y asking like a child, believing like a child, and even playing like a child” (37).
Children ask their fathers about everything, and they will ask them for just about anything! Their fathers may or may not grant their requests but the point is that children do not hesitate to ask. So one way that we become like children in the presence of God is to relax, know he loves us, and ask him about whatever’s on our minds.
Second, children have a tendency to believe not only in their parents’ abilities but in their desire to bless the children. Miller writes, “Children are supremely confident of their parents’ love and power. Instinctively, they trust. They believe their parents want to do them good. If you know your parent love and protects you, it fills your world with possibility. You just chatter away with what is on your heart” (38).
Finally, children just are who they are in the presence of their fathers. They’re not afraid to be flighty or to play. So Miller exhorts, “When your mind starts wandering in prayer, be like a little child. Don’t worry about being organized or staying on task. Paul certainly wasn’t! Remember you are in conversation with a person. Instead of beating yourself up, learn to play again. Pray about what your mind is wandering to. Maybe it is something important to you. Maybe the Spirit is nudging you to think about something else” (41).
That’s sound advice. May the Lord teach us to ask, believe, and play in his presence like children who love and trust their Father.
Longing to become like a child in the presence of God,