“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Mt 6:7).

There is a type of educated, well-meaning Christian man who has worked hard to learn many things theological. He knows his Bible and can speak doctrine capably with the scholars. He can also communicate the words he has learned in fancy prayers of some fluency and poise, even when his feelings are drawing a blank. And, although back of it all is a heart in the right place, perhaps he is sometimes a bit too centered on himself when he prays.

On the other hand, there is a type of unaffected, trusting child (most of them, in fact, when their young hearts are nurtured to flourish) who has learned only enough in life so as to express their faith by scribbling allegiances like, I love you God, in crayon, with red squiggly hearts drawn in for affection. The child’s message at its source is open and simple and full of love. And I am certain God delights in hearing the simple faith expressed in those prayers: “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:4).

Many times when I communicate with God—especially those times it’s out loud and in the presence of others—I try too hard to be the educated man with the silver tongue. In my heart I want to be that child. Sometimes I even come to my senses and think to myself: Aren’t even my fancy prayers just crayon scribblings when held up to the omniscience of God? In my clearer moments I see that they are, and it takes the pressure off of trying to impress God (or others), and it relaxes me to be my real self with Him again, and it prompts me to reflect on how God doesn’t require special words from my mouth. Like any good father, He desires the authentic expressions of my heart. I’ve got to get better at remembering that.

I hope this encourages you to pray with the heart of a child today.

Kevin Murray

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