Pray as a Child

February 12, 2023 Download: Audio

Matthew 18:1-4

So far in our series on prayer we’ve seen that we pray because prayer works, and we pray because God is an ultimate end—that time with God is itself a great reward. But how do we get there? How do we actually pray? I think we often approach prayer in the opposite way we ought to. We make it hard. We feel a bit intimidated. And it is understandable that we do that. After all, we are coming before the creator of the universe; the one who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeble; the one who is wholly other, high and exalted who sits on the throne of heaven ruling over the universe. That rightly warrants a bit of fear and trepidation. After all, when Moses brought the Israelites to meet him at Mt Sinai after their exodus from Egypt, they found a consuming fire on the mountain, saw the smoke and heard the roar of thunder. Moses warned them not to get too close lest they be swept away. So it is no wonder that we want to make sure and get the words right; to rehearse them so that we can be sure we say the right things that will please him. Prayer brings us right into the throne room of God. It is an intimidating thing to do. It is understandable why we have a little reluctance. Knowing what to say in the presence of such a one is a lot of work.

And this notion of prayer is often reinforced, perhaps unwittingly, by our noticing of other people’s corporate prayers. We admire the one who can pray with such clarity the great doctrinal truths we find in the Scriptures. We are moved by reading the old puritan prayers, for example. They are beautiful and they help us understand doctrine that shapes us. They are indeed good models for us. But the danger in hearing and admiring such prayers is that we think that all prayer should sound like that. Let me tell you, that prayer did not just pop out of a puritan’s mouth. He sat down and carefully crafted it. He crafted it not so much for God to hear, but for us to hear—that it might shape and even train our thoughts. It isn’t a bad prayer. It is glorious prayer and the words are worth meditating upon. But it isn’t a model for prayer, at least not for daily, one-on-one time with God. Why do I say that? Because if you have to come up with this kind of prayer in order to come before God you may never make it. And if you do it won’t be often. If you are able to somehow craft such prayers routinely and come before God, you will find that so many of the things that occupy your mind outside of prayer are kept hidden away in the closet of your mind and heart. You would always be presenting your “instagram self” to God, rather than your real self.

What we need to foster prayer that brings us closer to God is the teaching we’re looking at this morning. We need to learn how to become like children. Did you see what he says?

‌“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

So what observations can we make about children that help us here? I think it is the way a child—particularly a young child—comes to his parents.