“Dear God,” I whisper, “thank you for . . .”
“For . . .” my little girl whispers back. “I don’t know, Mama. For what?”
“Well, thank you for everything. What’s something you want to thank God for?” I coax her gently.
“Waffle cake?” She giggles because she knows that’s not even a real thing.
“Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Rowdy (our dog) and me.”
“That’s a good start,” I reassure her, but I’m really reassuring myself too.
My daughter is only two years old, and she’s just learning to pray. It’s my job to help her figure out exactly what that means. What is prayer going to be in her life? Why do we do it? What exactly is it for, and how am I going to teach that to her?
Sorry for all the questions. I have trouble with this sometimes because prayer was absolutely lost on me during my own childhood. I had a traditional “only church on Sundays” experience: stand up, sit down, repeat after me, and memorize some stuff. None of it actually meant anything to me, and I never really stopped to know, understand, or care that God was listening. Every time I prayed, He was there, and He could hear every word. That truth was lost on me. Yet, here I am, trying to get my daughter to “get it.”
Why does she need to pray? She needs to pray because that’s how she’s going to build a real and lasting relationship with Our Father. Prayer is the key, and it will open the door to His love and plan for her life. His grace and His comfort are waiting on the other side, and talking to Him is how she will step into His presence and His peace.
Prayer will be her anchor when the storms start knocking her boat around. Prayer will be the rock on which she’ll stand with her fists in the air and celebrates His goodness and mercy. And it’s also the solid ground where she’ll fall down weeping, wrapped in His loving embrace, because He’s doing something she doesn’t understand.
I want her prayer life to be so much more than a practice or routine: every prayer is an opportunity to communicate openly and honestly with Him about how she is feeling, the revealing of truth from deep inside her own heart. He has given her this supernatural ability: to speak her truth out loud and directly into His ear, to press up against Him as every word transcends space and the physical world.
Prayer is a God-given superpower, and it’s my job to show her how to use it.
God gave us a beautiful example in His Word of what this power looks like when it’s lived out: Hannah. When faced with an unrelenting bully inside her own home, it would have been easy for Hannah to give in, shut down, or lash out against her attacker. Instead, she fought that battle on her knees and showed us what it looks like to surrender control, thought, and emotion to the Lord and to be used in a powerful way. She was a living symbol of what God can do if we use this power to the fullest and in accordance with His perfect plan.
That’s why Hannah is the first Bible Belle. She is The Belle Of Prayer because her story contains a valuable and timeless lesson that our girls need now: God has gifted them with the ability to speak directly to Him, and He hears everything they have to say. This empowers them to make a choice: the choice to be vulnerable, to be honest, to ask Him to enter those dark corners of their hearts and bring the truth out of hiding. When they do, when our girls decide to call out to Him, He will conquer those confused feelings and replace them with strength, peace, and confidence about who they were created to be.
And for now, I’ll be okay with “I don’t know, Mama” as we talk through the moments in out lives that need to be framed by and forged in prayer. She and I will feel it out together, and my prayer is that I can be the loving support she needs as she learns to use this power. From what I know now, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.