I would love to improve my prayer life and one thing I am learning is that I need to act a little more like a little child in my relationship toward God. This may seem strange. After all, when older kids and adults act like little children it is not particularly cute, attractive or appealing. Yet, in Mark 10:14-15 and Mark 9:33-37 Jesus tells the disciples that if they want to be a part of his kingdom they need to become like a child.
Little kids ask about everything, and they ask often. They can be very persistent about something they think they want. Little children are very real and blunt in their asking. They don’t beat around the bush or phrase their requests in clever or cunning ways. If they want something or are unhappy about things they blurt it right out. There is not a fake bone in their little bodies and that is how Jesus wants us to come to him. But we are uncomfortable with this kind of authenticity – especially with God. Instead we try to approach God with well organized and thought out prayers and we get frustrated when our minds get sidetracked or when our prayers come out sounding spiritually inept. We need to learn to be real.
Miller in "A Praying Life" says that,
the difficulty of coming just as we are is that we are messy. When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God. We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good.
In contrast, little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as the are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right. Jesus does not say” Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wonder, and I will give you rest.”
Instead Jesus wants us to come to him when we are happy, excited, fearful, weary, overwhelmed, disorganized in our minds. Well, messy.
Miller makes the point that we should stop trying to get prayer right. We need to be real in our prayer life otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees. “Rarely did they tell Jesus directly what they were thinking.”
“Tell him where you are weary. If you don’t begin with where you are, then where you are will sneak in the back door. Your mind will wander to where you are weary. We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are. We don’t know what troubles us. So, oddly, enough, we might need to worry before we pray. Then our prayers will make sense. They will be about our real lives.”
When we pray we are talking to a person. We are having a conversation and sometimes when we talk to a close friend we comfortably jump from one topic to another often times getting sidetracked for a while before getting back to the main conversation. Instead of getting frustrated when our minds begin to wander, we should pray about the things that our minds wander to. That might be more spiritual than you realize. Maybe that is the Holy Spirit’s prompting.