Mom, teach us to pray

Daily Reading for October 7

My five-year-old daughter asked me at breakfast one morning about her bedtime prayers. She wasn’t really sure, she admitted, just what to say to God. (Now this is the sort of opening I like: “Mom, teach us to pray.”) I poured orange juice and congratulated myself on such a splendid opportunity for age-appropriate instruction in confession and petition. “God likes to hear from us,” I told Emily, “the same things all mommies and daddies like to hear from their children: please and thank you and I’m sorry.”

Emily considered this, licking jam from her fingers in order to count to three: please; thank you; I’m sorry. She nodded, then waved the two unaccounted-for fingers and said, “Maybe there are two other things I say a lot that God would like to hear from me.”

“What’s that, honey?” I asked absently, beginning to clear the table (the lesson being over). “Maybe,” she suggested, “I could tell God ‘Wow!’ and ‘I love you.’”

I sat down, my hands full of silverware. “Yes, of course, darling, what a wonderful idea. Those are excellent prayers,” I assured her, and sent her off to brush her teeth. But when I got up a few moments later, I was under no illusions about who had received the lesson. I had forgotten—as I so often forget—that prayer begins in praise and adoration.

From The Praying Life: Seeking God in All Things by Deborah Smith Douglas. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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