It’s the time of year when kids make wish lists of all that they want for Christmas. When our kids were young, I feared Toys-R-Us. I was terrified they’d see something really huge we couldn’t afford and set their hearts on it. One year there was a giant toy pony that kids could actually ride. I think it cost $400. Ridiculous.
Years ago my friend’s son was celebrating his 4th birthday. Just before he blew out the candles, we said, “Make a wish, Luke.” Without skipping a beat, he took a breath and said, “I wish I could fly,” then blew.
That’s how kids think. I want the pony. I want to fly.
Somewhere along the way, we make our lists more reasonable. More practical. We stick to the budget. That’s good in some respects, but there’s an aspect of how kids ask that we aren’t meant to lose.
What are children like? They are weak and needy, and unashamed. They come boldly with their needs and make them known. They’re trusting. They don’t analyze whether or not the ask is too much or out of line-they’re just honest with desire. They believe their parents will take care of them.
I’ve been reading the gospels lately, and I see Jesus inviting this kind of boldness in our relationship with God. He’s always asking people to come closer, calling out their desire, “What do you want me to do for you?” He honors faith, even when it’s just a desperate grab at his cloak. He makes space for children, calling us to be like them. He wants us to come and ask.
So why don’t we? Why don’t we go to God with all our hopes and dreams and wishes and ask big?
Prayer is vulnerable. It’s a raw and scary prospect to bring all our desires before someone who could choose not to fulfill them in the way we hope. It’s tempting to hedge our prayers and only ask for what we think he’s willing to do, what’s in the budget. We wonder if we’re asking for the right things in the right ways so much that we end up asking for nothing at all. It’s easier not to ask than to ask and be disappointed.
But this is where prayer is about so much more than getting what we want. It’s about drawing closer in trust to our father, letting him have our whole hearts, and in the process being shaped to his will. He can’t do that when we hold back.
Lately, I’ve been trying to be more childlike in my prayers. I have been going to God bare hearted, telling him everything I wish were true, everything I hope will happen, everything I want. I’ve been going honest, raw, angry, scared, confused, hopeful, searching. I’ve tried not to censor myself, but trust that he can see through my aching.
As I do, he’s helping me sort out the aching too. I see where he is at work in these areas. I hear him reminding me of what’s true. I feel his delight. I receive his peace and comfort. It’s like in bringing my whole heart, he can fully sift it and give me the right perspective on it. It leads me to gratitude and to worship.
What’s on your list today? Be audacious. Be bold. Be needy. Be honest. Be childlike in your faith and your trust. Ask for the pony. Tell him you want to fly. Bring your whole heart to your father who loves you more than life and trust that he will give you what is good.
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” -Matthew 7:9-11