"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, May 1, 2015

Learning How to Pray ... from a 4-year-old

I got to do something recently that I've been waiting literally my whole life to do. I got to take my grandson to his school and drop him off ... all by myself. Yes, I was the giddy, trying-to-act-mature, strutting-like-a-peacock-in-full-bloom grandmother, acting like I was the first to ever do such. I was also scared to death when I drove off. "Please, God, don't let me forget to pick him up!" (I distinctly remember that same feeling when I dropped my firstborn off for his first day of kindergarten.) Well, I didn't forget. In fact, I was first in line! No surprise there.

As I made preparations for this all important duty, I received my instructions the night before from his parents. What time I needed to leave in order to get him there on time; which line to get in; what time to pick him up; whether or not he could carry his lovies in, etc. And then one very important instruction. 

"And we always pray on the way to school."

Now there was something this grandmother could handle. I immediately had flashbacks of raising my own 3 kids. When they were younger, we would pray on the way to school. As they got older and we lived in Richmond Hill, I would call each one to my rocker in my bedroom and pray with them there. And after we moved to this home and the oldest was now driving, we prayed around the breakfast table. Yes, I had this one down. So off the little guy and I went with lunch box, backpack, and 2 lovies (which had to remain in the car).

As we pulled out of the neighborhood, I said, "Okay, let's pray." To which I was told, "Not yet." 

We got to the first traffic light, and I said, "Now do we pray?" 

"No, G-Nan,." 

Next traffic light. "Now?"


"Okay, why don't you just tell me when we are supposed to pray." By this time, I was feeling less secure in my position as grandmother.

As we pulled up to the last and final traffic light, the cute little brown-eyed 4-year old said, "Now."

Not really sure of the whole MO anymore, I inquired, "Do I pray, or do you?"

"You pray first, and then I will." 

As so I did. "Jesus. Thank you for this day. Please be with Jude as he's at school. Help him to be a good boy and a leader among his friends." (He quickly interrupted and told me it wasn't his day to be a leader.)  And so I rephrased that last request and then continued my charade of trying to cover all the bases as if God might forget His duties over my grandson that day. And, of course, ended with, "Bless Mommy and Daddy."

Now it was his turn. "Jesus, thank you for letting G-Nan take me to school. Thank you for all the cars. Thank you for the traffic light. For red that means stop. Green that means go. Amen." 

Wow. Talk about an in-the-moment-kind of prayer!

Later that evening, I joined his mommy and daddy in his room for bedtime stories. What a treat it is to sit in my great-grandmother's rocker -- yes, Jude's great, great, great grandmother's chair -- and read to him stories of the heroes of the faith. As we bowed to pray, Jude got down and lay on the floor. His daddy prayed that God would send ministering angels to watch over him and to remove any drama of the day. His mommy prayed. And I prayed. And then Jude prayed. "Jesus, thank you for letting me play footsies with my daddy." As I opened my eyes, you got it, his foot was stuck up in the air and he was playing footsies with his daddy. 

How is it that a child can so know the art of prayer? Of just being present to the moment and thanking God for it. At what age do we forget that the present moment is just that -- a gift -- and something for which to thank the Giver? When do we become consumed with the "out there" and forget living "Now,' where the kingdom of God exists? 

Somewhere between 4 and 56, I know for sure.

Children. Yes. To such belong the Kingdom of God.

Just an ordinary moment...