Prayer lessons: From the mouths of babes
I was saying bedtime prayers with 6-year-old Chiara the other night, when she stumbled over a line in the Our Father. Although she’s got the standards pretty much down pat at this point — Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be — every once in a while she switches a word, or looks at us quizzically when she comes upon something that’s just not in her first-grade vocabulary. Trespasses and temptation, for example.
But on this particular night, the slip-up was something much more basic, and something that, oddly enough, caused me to reflect on how I pray the same prayer. So here’s how it went.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
MY kingdom come,
MY will be done…
Whoa, there sweetie. That’s supposed to be THY, not MY. And then it hit me. How often do I say that very same prayer with the right words but the wrong spirit? How often do I really want MY will to be done, not God’s will. God’s will after all can be so, well, difficult to deal with, and He’s not always on the same page.
So I learned something new about this old prayer and about myself. Every time I say the Our Father now, that line jumps out at me, and I stop for a second to think about whether I really mean what I’m saying. Am I willing to turn it all over to God, or do I say “thy will” while secretly thinking I’ll have it my way?