Sometimes, what we need most, is to pause, pray, praise, and repeat.
After a series of poor choices this evening, Annie received the consequence of an early bedtime. While she was unhappy at first (being the older sibling, yet having to go to bed before her brother), it was music to my ears to leave Wes’ bedroom and hear her singing “Thank you, God (thank you, God), for our food (for our food), and our friends and family (and our friends and family), Amen (Amen)” (sung to the familiar tune of Frère Jacques).
Several thoughts on my mind as I reflect on this:
1. I love that the song she’s singing is a prayer Grace and I sing with our kids before just about every meal. There is nothing wrong with rote prayers and repetition. In fact, so much good comes from it I’d venture to say you’re better off sticking to a script than always improvising prayer on your own.
When the disciples wanted to learn how to pray, Jesus gave them a SPECIFIC prayer that they could pray (in Matthew 6:9-13). Acts 2:42 talks about how the early christians devoted themselves to “the prayers” (PLURAL. Not “prayer” but “the prayers,” suggesting there was a written set of prayers they devoted themselves to).
People often say, “Well, I can’t pray written prayers, written prayers are lifeless.” But prayers aren’t living or dead, they are either true or false; what’s dead or alive is the person praying them.
There’s nothing wrong with rote prayers. In fact, they can be of huge benefit, because, as seen here with Annie, the prayers we practice in one environment can come into play in times of grief and frustration to help cultivate within us a heart of gratitude.
2. I’m thankful for great friends like Travis and Britney Hamm who taught us the song to pray with our kids. Parenting is not a solo act. Whoever’s tried it knows it! It takes a village and it’s incredible to get to parent alongside people you trust. Thankful for the ways these two have helped Grace and me (and so many others) learn how to love our children well!
3. As difficult as it is at times to discipline your own children, if done with a heart that rightly seeks restoration, it actually mirrors the very heart of our loving Father God who also disciplines those he loves (as Hebrews 12 says). As much as I love my children, and as much as it breaks my heart to do what I know I must do for their sake, I can only imagine how much it must break his heart because of how much he fully, wholly, perfectly loves us as his children.
4. Don’t chase after the momentous or miraculous, the lightning crashes and ocean roar, but look deeply and quietly into the mundane. It’s often when we least expect it, when we’re not even looking for it, that God seems to speak and teach us—in those little moments, with a gentle whisper and still, small voice. Parenting is like that. Sometimes where are trophies and graduations, awards and accolades, but more so it’s these simple moments—simply beautiful moments—where we need to pause, pray, praise, and repeat.