My oldest loves the movie Cars. I mean he really loves it. I used to. Now that I have watched it approximately 267 times, I still manage to laugh at some parts, which means it must be pretty good. In a moment of insanity, I made the mistake of buying him the soundtrack. After we had listened to it constantly for two weeks straight, I imposed one of those arbitrary mom rules that seem so unfair: we can only listen to the Cars music on Fridays. Now almost every morning brings the question, “Is it Cars day, Mommy?” This actually has been a good way of teaching him the virtue of waiting. It’s sort of our mini advent, except that we are waiting for the coming of Lightning McQueen instead of Christ. Minor difference.
The same child also loves performing. He has a little guitar that he has owned for almost a year now, and he loves to give performances, especially copying the worship leader at our church. I was working in the kitchen yesterday when he came running into the living room playing his guitar and singing. Or so I thought.
Me: “Are you making up a song?”
Him: “No, I’m just playing my instrument and praying like they do sometimes.”
Me: “Oh, okay. Well, praying is a good thing to do.” (Go back to my dinner prep.)
Him: (in a sing-song voice) “Dear God, please let it be Cars day. Friday is such a good day.”
I am sure there is a lesson here to be applied to my prayer life. Wanting to listen to that soundtrack was the most pressing issue on my son’s little heart. He knows nothing of the conflict in Darfur, the protests in Burma, or the many other injustices in the world. He will one day, but for now he is just learning to pray. And that is something. His prayers are spontaneous, from his heart, honest. I too often think that the work of prayer has to involve sitting down with a list to knock out all of those injustices. That sort of intercessory prayer is important, but it can’t happen unless I am cultivating an attitude of prayer and bringing myself honestly before God. If I am learning to pray as things come up throughout the day, with spontaneity and a guitar, then I am bringing my heart before God. I may not get what I ask for, but as I learn to listen in prayer, He may just teach me to ask for what I need.