Prayer: Authentic, Messy, Human

Several weeks ago I wrote about my new nighttime routine of prayer with the boys. I’ve struggled a lot with establishing a nighttime prayer routine with them, but I’ve had a morning prayer routine with them since the twins were born. I think one day I figured I had a captive audience in the car (or someone was screaming and I wanted to pray a little for help) and I just started rattling off something random. It ended up sticking as our daily morning prayer. It goes something like this: 

Dear God thank you for each of the boys in this car and for daddy, 

Thank you for the clothes on our backs and the food in our bellies 

and the warm place to sleep at night. 

Please keep us safe and healthy today.

Lord, teach us to be generous, 

To give and not count the cost, 

To always act in love, 

And to be our best selves. 

In your name we pray, Amen.

One of the times they were pretending to be “ghosts” in the car…

It’s definitely a random set of things spliced together –  and, of course, a little of the Ignatian Prayer for Generosity mixed in… but it is what we say every morning. Some mornings I can catch a wave of quiet as we exit the driveway and say the prayer quickly and reverently before they get distracted. Most days, however, I start “Dear God, thank you…” and a little voice will pipe in saying “Mom, I have to tell you something now mom” or “I just farted” accompanied by a burst of laughter. It is hard to determine whether or not yelling at them to stop talking until we are done praying really adds anything to the reverence of the prayer. There are so many times when I think “Is this really worth it?”

Lately, however, even if they are giggling about farts during the prayer, I have little signs that they are paying attention. Like the last few weeks when they say “What about Baby Charlie?” when I finish the prayer to remind me to pray for their teacher’s son who is in the NICU. Or when my oldest very seriously says that we need to pray without ceasing for LuLu because LuLu disappeared and may be lost and cold and sad. (Lulu was one of our chickens who “ran away”). Those are the moments when I think persistence is worthwhile. 

Prayer with my boys at this stage of life is messy and loud and disorderly… but I am trying. The readings for this Sunday speak about the value of prayer along with the value of persistence in prayer. God just wants us to show up – messy, broken, human. Faith, to me, entails showing up as our authentic, imperfect selves and letting God do the rest. 

May we have the willingness to show up in prayer this week and every week, just as we are.

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