Ever listen to a child pray? I mean, really listen. I think there is much to be learned from the faith of a child and the unscripted way they talk to God. In our home, we teach our kids to pray and say whatever you feel like saying. As a result, sometimes the prayers are hilarious, sometimes sweet, and regularly the words absolutely astonish me with the depth and audacity of their childlike faith and transparency of their hearts.
Recently, I was listening to Sakura pray before bedtime and a lesson was stamped onto my heart. Coincidentally, this lesson from my sweet six year old coincided at a time where I have been “working on” a much desirable and equally difficult attitude practice of what you could label as “thankful-living.” Like most humans, I struggle with a lack of true gratefulness for the many blessings that are consistently a part of my everyday in’s and outs.
Sakura closed her eyes and began slowly, “Dear God…
Thank you for today. Thank you for the dinner I ate, and that mommy cooks so good.
Thank you for my family, and for Ronin cause he’s sooooooooo sweet….and cute.
Thank you for my teacher, and learning to read…
Thank you for daddy going to Nicrag-o to teach people about Jesus… (she meant Nicaragua, but says it with an Nicarag-O, adorable!), oh yah, help daddy to be safe too on that airplane…and in the water…
Thank you for my toys and all the things you give me….my pencils, my scissors, my paper….” her list continued…numbering off things she was thankful for.
None of them prompted. Just her sweet, childish heart, overwhelmed with gratitude.
I thought to myself, what if I started my prayers with such a connection, such peace, such thankfulness— instead of the “rushed”, get it all in as quickly as I can, method I often approach the Father with?
Oh, I am thankful, I really am. I am tremendously blessed, and daily I praise God for His faithful hand in my world. But it’s an all-inclusive blanketed thank you. Concise. Hastened. Maybe even half-hearted. It’s a “thankful offering” that precedes a list of requests, wants, and needs. It’s what you’re supposed to say before rattling off all you really came to talk to God about.
Frankly, I blame my lack of gratefulness in the fact that I don’t have the time or opportunity to pause and enjoy the daily moments. The days seem to always be in fast forward and hectic chaos, regardless of how well I seem to manage my allotted twenty four hours, most days, I can’t seem to find a balance that is adequate. I long to slow down, but life in the fast lane is my norm. Multi-tasking is a necessity, but, it has become so much more then that. It’s become such a consistent reality that savoring individual moments feels foreign and unproductive.
Sunsets. Sunrises. The collision of colors displayed in the trees as the change of seasons approaches. Cool breezes and warm cozy jackets. Laughter of kids and energetic feet running around upstairs. Squeals and squeaks coming from chubby baby cheeks. The strong arms of my handsome husband, caring for me, loving me, and holding me even in my jammies when I look less then presentable. Just a tiny glimpse, just a small fraction of the many blessings that surround me– Every. Single. Day. Yet, I rarely pause to notice, rarely pause to be thankful, individually, for any of them.
I’ve been reading a book, called, One Thousand Gifts (Ann Vokstamp) that has captivated my attention, challenged my “speed through life approach”, and burdened me with the need to begin to see life’s moments through a new lens. A lens that is not stained with selfishness, ingratitude and a desire for ease– but is rather coated with seeing through the eyes of grace and thankfulness that Jesus possessed. A life brimming with thankfulness towards God, even when it’s hard, even when we face tragic heartbreaks, frustrations, waiting and “unanswered” prayers. Thanking God not only first, but often. Regularly. Not just for the epic huge blessing moments, but for the thousands of itty-bitty daily ones.
Sakura already brims with such gratitude. The cruelty of life has not hardened her heart. The rush of the daily grind has not quickened her pace so much that the moments pass by without notice. Perhaps this is part of what faith like a child entails– slowing down more, looking up constantly, and realizing that all things, all things, come from a wonderful Creator who is so deserving of our praise and thankfulness.