The book is a reassuring, realistic, comforting book about keeping a life of prayer in the midst of life's distractions and troubles. I am not exaggerating when I say that it has really changed me in lasting ways.
Last March, I was able to attend a brief conference with the author. He reminded us that Jesus uses little children asking for things as our model for prayer! Children come as they are, and they are not cynical. He said that if we were to summarize all of Jesus' teaching on prayer in only one word, it would be: ASK. He pointed out that much our difficulty in praying is not lack of discipline, as we may be tempted to believe, but rather lack of trust, lack of child-likeness.
By way of illustration, let me tell you this story of Lucy on the playground about a week ago.
I was pushing Lucy on a swing when another little girl, about Lucy's age, came up to the swing next to us. The swings were quite high, but this little girl hoisted herself up with her arms, got a knee on the swing, and then maneuvered her legs around to the front and began to swing. I could tell that Lucy was watching this, for she had attempted a few times in vain to get herself on the swing before I had lifted her up.
Moments later, Lucy jumped down, and ran to a little bench where I had put my bag and her blankey. She lay down on her tummy, blankey in hand, and bowed her head. I thought she was sulking.
"Lucy," I asked, "what are doing?"
"I have to do something, Mama. It's called PRAYING."
She prayed for minute, then ran back to the swing, and tried to hoist herself onto the swing just like the little girl next to us. No dice. Meanwhile, I'm holding my breath to see what happens. By this time, I've caught on that she was asking God to let her get on the swing.
She tried again, and...success! She beamed, and as she swung her legs to the front of the swing, she said, "It worked!"
We talked for a moment about how God had said yes to her prayer, and how special it was to see that right then and there.
A minute later, off the swing she jumped, and again off to the bench.
This time she volunteered, "It's called PRAYING, Mama!" She bowed her head again.
Again, she tried to get on the swing, and she did, face glowing with pleasure.
As a mother, it was so pleasing to see my child want to pray, right there on the playground, and to see her child-like belief that God, her loving Father, would help her.
Is Lucy some kind of saint? A perfect prayer? No way; she's just a child asking for something she wants. A cynical heart wants to poke all kinds of holes in this story. But God's tender heart is FOR His children. He didn't have to help Lucy get on that swing. It would have been okay if He had said "no". But to show His little daughter that He cares so tenderly about the details of her life, that He loves her, that He wants to build her faith...He said YES.
Friends, that same Father cares for you. Don't let the cynicism of our age keep you from asking, asking, and asking again, just like a child. He longs to hear from you.
Updated: Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose.