One of the biggest joys that a parent can experience is hearing our children utter their first words. Every mom longs to hear "ma-ma" come out of the mouth of her infant. Dads love it when the baby says "da-da" first.
My youngest son is two-and-a-half, so he is learning new words every day. My husband and I get a laugh or share a surprised look when he tests out his new words. It is so cute to hear an adult phrase come out of a two year old's mouth!
This same son really likes to sing. I sing at least one song to him before I put him down for nap and bedtime. Sometimes he requests more than one. Today, he said, "Sing a song." I asked him which one he would like. He said, "Jesus." So, of course I sang "Jesus Loves Me," and he joined in on the last word of every phrase. He really likes the part where Jesus is strong! (He sings it with a growl, you know, because Jesus is tough.)
Parents, is there anything more precious than hearing your kids sing about or talk about Jesus? I would have to say, no!
I think that since God is our Father and we are made in His image, He loves to hear us sing or talk to Him or about Him. I'm talking about prayer, here, friends. And it is something that God has been teaching me about recently.
Just like when we love to hear our children utter their cute phrases to us, God delights when we come to Him in prayer. He wants us to pray. Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," (Matthew 11:28).
And Peter, one of Jesus' disciples instructed us to do the same. "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7). God wants us to come to Him with our fears, anxieties, worries, and concerns. He also is not offended by our feelings and emotions, even if they may seem overly dramatic to us. (No one can relate to being overly dramatic, can they?)
But Peter and the other disciples were not always self-assured about prayer. They saw Jesus praying all the time. And Jesus was God Himself. The disciples knew that prayer was important, they just didn't quite know how to do it. So they asked Jesus for help.
Jesus gave them a model, and it is still a great model for us. It is, of course, the Lord's Prayer. It is found in Matthew 6:9-13. Many of us are very familiar with this prayer and could say it without thinking much. Does that mean we've mastered prayer?
Definitely not! If Jesus, Son of God, prayed often, how much more do we need to pray? Does one written out prayer cover our needs? Maybe, but God says to cast ALL our worries and cares on Him.
I have not found anywhere in the Bible where it says God doesn't hear or answer prayers that don't sound "good enough." In fact, Jesus criticized the Pharisees (the important Jewish leaders) for praying "fancy" and with "great show."
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:5-8)
We need not pray with great flourish or with all the big, theological words. I love a quote from Mark Batterson's book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. He wrote, "I mistakenly think that my combination of words will somehow unlock the miracle, but I'm learning that God listens more to our hearts than our words."
Exactly! Just like Jesus said, He already knows what we need or want before we ask Him. Does He need a magical array of expressions in order to answer us? No. He is concerned with the expression of our hearts. Are we humble before Him? Are we seeking His will above all else? Do we believe He hears us? Those are the things God is concerned about.
Think about your children again. Were they scared to utter their first words? Were they nervous to try those bigger words, phrases, and sentences? No, they weren't. They knew they were loved by you, and that you would teach them if they needed guidance. You're a good parent! But guess what? God is even better. His love for us is more perfect than our love for our own children.
He just wants to your voice.
It was a beautiful fall day. My older two children were at school, and it was one-on-one time with my two year old. The boy could live outside year-round, so we headed out to play and enjoy the weather. Up here in Minnesota we know that winter is always right around the corner. We take advantage of the nice fall days when we have them.
I offered to push my son on our swing, knowing he would love the idea. Our swing, with its big circle base and spider web patterned seat, hangs idyllically from the biggest oak tree on our farm. If you look north from the swing, an impressive corn field expands before your eyes. As you spin around on the swing, you can take in the rest of our country property: our grove, our garden, our machine shed, and our house. (Note: the swing above is not our swing, though it is a beautiful picture from Pinterest!)
As most two year olds do, my son loves to swing. He could be pushed for hours and still find delight in the activity. I must confess that sometimes, I view pushing him on the swing as just a motherly duty. Sometimes I just push him back and forth while my brain thinks about the more “important” things I should do with my time. Yep, I’m guilty of this a lot, actually.
But today, I chose something so valuable. It is more valuable than achieving everything on my to-do list. It is worth more than a spotless house. I chose to be present.
If you’re like me, staying present in your life, minute by minute, is a challenge. As moms the weight of our responsibilities often takes precedence over living in the moment. We think about future appointments, suppers we must make, groceries we must buy, and the clothes we left in the dryer. (I hope I’m not the only one who does that!)
But when we choose to be present, when we make living in the moment our first priority, wow, do we experience blessings!
First and foremost, we can only experience God in the present. We can only worship God now. We can’t go back and praise Him. We can’t look to the future and feel His presence. He is with us right now in the moment we are given. If we seek God in the moment, we will find Him. We will experience Him. God promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).
Secondly, what joy do we miss out on when we allow our brains to leave the present and worry about the future? Ladies, we miss out on so much. Because I chose to be present that perfect fall day, I allowed myself to revel in the beautiful weather. I was able to experience the joy of pushing my son on our swing. I heard the jubilant squeals and delighted laughter from my son as I pushed him “around the world” and “higher, higher” as he insisted. His joy became my joy.
You know what I’ve realized? Joy can only be experienced in the present, when you are present. When we don’t live in the present, we miss out on one main reason why Jesus came. Our joy is stolen. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). Jesus came to give us joy. He came so that we could have a joyFUL life. When our minds are planning for and worrying about the future, we miss out on this blessing from Jesus.
If you watch your children like I watched mine that day, you’ll notice that they are excellent at living in the present. Because of the innocence of children, they have no reason not to live in the moment. I know we can’t always operate not caring about the future. We have to be adults, after all. But how much more joy could we add to our lives if we purposefully chose to be present in more of the little moments of life?
You know what I think? I think our lives would be so much richer if we hopped on the swing, just like my son, and allowed ourselves to experience the joy in the ride.
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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