The Right Way to Pray

PrayerMy daughter was getting ready for bed last night, and we started to say our bedtime prayers. Like many four year olds, she’s really a talker. So lately instead of praying out loud myself, I’ve asked her to do the bedtime prayer. It always starts like this:

“Daddy, how do we start?” “Well honey, we usually start by saying ‘Thank you God’ or ‘Dear God’ or something like that.” So she starts and begins by thanking God for everything. Last night, however, she had this brilliant insight. She said, “Daddy, do you think we can sing our prayers?” Astounded by her monastic leanings I said, “Of course we can!” You’ll have to imagine the tune, but I think you can make do.
“Thank you God for Mommy, Daddy, and Bubby. I love them so much and we love you too. Thank you for this house you picked out for us, because we really like it…especially the ceiling.” This was followed by some mumbled song-praying, but I distinctly made out the words unicorn and castle. We closed with a communal prayer as she reminded me, “Now daddy, let’s sing Amen together!”

We then had a brief theological discussion when I told her that I thought God probably loved that prayer. She said, “Do you think God heard it? He doesn’t come around here.” Of course, all four year olds have a deep grasp of the invisibility and omnipresence of God, so I said, “Yes honey, I know he heard it.”

She then rattled off some serious apophatic postmodern theologizing on the nature of God. “Daddy…God is like when you take paper and you cut it out with scissors and then you have the parts left over…” Of course, this was far more than my inflexible calcified adult mind could handle, so I said, “You’re exactly right. Now go to sleep.” And she did.

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