Scripture Reading: Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
In the adult Sunday school class that I teach, we are beginning this new year with a study and discussion on prayer. We have started out by studying the teachings of Jesus on becoming like little children, and how that relates to our prayer life. Children come without any pretense and they are usually, brutally honest in their assessment of life.
On many occasions, Jesus tells his disciples that they need to become like little children. Imagine what these grown men must have thought when Jesus told them that they needed to become like little children. The disciples seemed to have struggled with this teaching of Jesus as we see many instances of Jesus telling them this over and over again throughout the Gospels.
From Mark: 9: 33-37, we find the disciples traveling with Jesus to Capernaum. As they arrive at Peter’s house, Jesus asks his disciples what they had been arguing about on the road to Capernaum. The text from Mark tells us that the disciples kept quiet because on the way they had been arguing about who among them was the greatest. In another teachable moment, Jesus sits down and says to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Jesus then takes a little child and had the child stand among them. Then Jesus takes the child in his arms and tells the disciples that unless they become like children they will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
This becoming like a child has importance for us as we go before God in prayer. Jesus wants us to be more like little children when we pray, to be without pretense. Many times we try to be something that we aren’t. We come before God in an almost mechanical way, we try to be more spiritual and we try to impress God with our words and our lengthy prayers.
Jesus says, come as you are, come before God with all of your problems and worries. Come messy, come with stumbling words. It doesn’t matter if you get prayer right, what matters is that you come before God without any pretense and ask for guidance and help. Trust less in yourself and trust more in God.
As a father of four, I can say with certainty that children are not shy about telling you what they are thinking. They blurt out their thoughts and are usually very honest in their assessment of life. I believe that God wants us to be that way also in our prayer life. Jesus seems to be urging us to come before God in prayer, just as we are.
Matthew 11:28: The Words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” It’s ok to come before God in prayer as a weary and heavy-burdened human being. It’s ok to come before God as a needy child and ask for guidance and rest. The important thing is to go before God in prayer on a regular basis.