Every fall, 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 set their hearts on something huge we couldn’t afford. 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, needy, and unashamed. Boldly they bring 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. Faith that their parents will take care of them drives their asks.
In the gospels, 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?” Jesus honors faith, even when it’s just a desperate grab at his cloak. He makes space for children, calling us to be like them. We too are invited 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?
The vulnerability of audacity
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. We are tempted 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 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.
I now try to be more childlike in my prayers. I go to God bare hearted, telling him everything I wish were true, everything I hope will happen, everything I want. Go honest, raw, angry, scared, confused, hopeful, searching. We don’t have to censor ourselves, but instead, trust that he can see through our aching.
As we do, he sorts out the aching. He is at work in these areas. Listen to him remind us of what’s true. We will feel his delight. He pours out peace and comfort. When we bring our whole hearts, he can fully sift them and give us the right perspective. It leads to gratitude and worship.
What’s on your list today?
Be audacious, bold, needy, 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