On Sunday I finished preaching a short three-part series on the Lord’s Prayer, and it has left me thinking of what needs to change in my prayer life. I don’t think it’s safe to say that I’m too seasoned at any aspect of prayer, but there’s one glaring thing that is lacking, and I wonder if it’s lacking in your prayers as well. Here it is, I don’t pray like a child.
Jesus says that “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). John MacArthur describes this child-likeness as “the simple, helpless, trusting dependence of those who have no resources of their own” (MacAthur Study Bible, note on Matthew 18:3). My question is, after we’ve entered the kingdom of heaven with this kind of child-like faith and dependence, are we to abandon it for self-sufficiency and do-it-yourself-ness? Certainly not! Our child-like dependence on God must continue throughout our Christian lives, and whether or not it has continued will be evident in our prayer lives.
To help us get some perspective on child-like dependence in prayer, simply put, we should observe children. My four year-old son is a great help with this. He is constantly tugging on my pants to ask me to do something for him. It really doesn’t matter what I’m doing or who I’m talking to, he’s right there inserting himself into the equation to get what he needs. My son understands that he has great limitations and therefore great needs, but he knows that most of the time I can help him with what he needs and because I love him, I am glad to help him with what he needs. So, he comes asking, and he does so incessantly.
Sadly, something happens to us the older we get, we start believing the lie that we can do things for ourselves. We see that the world respects and applauds it when someone can stand on their own, so we’re encouraged to build a reputation for ourselves this way. Church, we must be the ones standing at our heavenly Father’s side tugging on his pants repeatedly to ask him for what we need. It may annoy me sometimes as a sinful, human Father to have my son ask as much as he does, but that will never be the case with God. He delights to give gifts to his children when they ask (Matthew 7:11).