22 Jul Prayer: His Beloved Children
In the second post of the “Enrich Your Prayer Life” series, Pastor Roy Williamson explains how we truly are children of God—and how that benefits our prayer lives.
His Beloved Children
by Roy Williamson, Associate Pastor of Care Ministries
There are no magical techniques or formulas to deepen and enrich our prayer life. Just a simple thought and a simple action:
Thought: “I am God’s beloved toddler.”
Action: Pray like a toddler.
“I am God’s beloved toddler.” When addressing us directly or referring to us, God calls us His “little children” or “beloved children” (Hebrews 2:13). And we are enjoined to “imitate God like beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). “Beloved” and “little” children refer to the same group—“children who are old enough to be mobile and capable of independent action (dressing or feeding themselves) but have not reached the age where they begin the training or education that will lead to full independence.” Historically this referred to children between ages one and five. The modern equivalent is “toddler.”
Compared to God we are like toddlers. Functionally, we are capable of independent action yet are totally dependent on Him. Our knowledge is time-based and limited while His is eternal and omniscient. Beyond these objective realities, the cultural practices of Bible times add flavor to the concept “God’s beloved toddler.”
In the ancient Jewish or Roman home, a toddler was the prized child—the one parents hugged and read to and played with and thoroughly enjoyed. Once a child reached “teaching age,” parental focus moved from enjoyment to training in preparation for adult life. “Enjoyment” took second place to “parental duty” in the relationship. God desires to “just enjoy” interacting with us in the same was the loving parent desired to enjoy their beloved toddler.
To enable that enjoyment, the ancient loving parent assumed the responsibility to provide, protect, teach, guide, and be an example to the toddler. Applying this to our relationship with God: the Father assumes the responsibility to provide and protect because He enjoys providing and protecting us. The Son as the perfect “older brother” thoroughly enjoys being our example—He loves it when we mimic Him. The Spirit guides and teaches because He enjoys guiding and teaching us.
And that enjoyment comes when and because we think like toddlers. A toddler recognizes that: “I am not in control.” Toddlers understand enough about the world around them to realize that they do not control events and circumstances, or the actions and attitudes of others. In prayer we acknowledge that we are not in control of history, events, and circumstances. He is—He decreed it all in eternity past. We make intercession because we recognize that we are not control of the thoughts, words, and actions of others. Our Father either directs, permits, or overrules all decisions and activities of man.
Because they are not in control, toddlers further conclude, “I must trust my parents to do what is right and good.” That trust is openly expressed through thoughts, concerns, hopes, and hurts voiced to their loving parents.
We pray because we trust that our Heavenly Father will do what is loving, best, right, and good. Our prayer life is deepened when we open up to Him all of our thoughts, concerns, hopes and hurts. We are free to do so because we know that He knows it all, empathizes, and has promised to “work all things together for good.”
Another logical toddler conclusion: “Because I trust my parents have my best interest at heart, I do not have to self-censor or self-regulate my verbal interaction with them.” For toddlers, there are no subjects or conditions that are off limits and no “bad time” or “inconvenient time” to express them to parents. While human parents may not agree regarding timing or regularity of toddler expressions, our Heavenly Father enjoins us to “pray without ceasing”—anytime, anywhere, and about anything.
The key to effective prayer is faith like that of a toddler: realizing your status and limitations, and then trusting the One who is without limits to do what is loving, right, and good. We have access to Him at any time and are sure that He is listening and is pleased by our “childlike” conversations with Him. Toddlers live by faith, and as the author of Hebrews tells us, “without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Prayer Tip: Try praying aloud through a psalm while replacing the words “me” or “I” with your name or the names of others. — Bill Murphy, Webmaster
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”—Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” —Ephesians 5:1 (NLT)