My oldest granddaughter offered to say the prayer after our food was delivered to our table. She chose a memorized prayer, and two lines in, she suddenly claimed, “I’m ready for my cookie.” It was a simple statement, not a demand. We reminded her she was praying. Two lines in again, then, “I wonder who is sitting over there,” as she peered around the short wall beside her. Her mom and I quietly giggled as she restarted the prayer yet again with no reminder. This time, she was able to finish.
It was an authentic prayer. One most of us have. We have good intentions but get distracted by what we want or what’s happening around us. And we have to restart, because we lost our flow. We’re not sure where we were, what we covered, what we left unsaid. And God is incessantly patient.
Sometimes we struggle to pray, and sometimes it’s not as much of a struggle as it is a lack of it. We go through the motions as if a simple recitation checks the box. As adults, if we feel distracted, we sometimes just wrap up a little earlier than intended. If we get interrupted, we don’t take the time to double back and regain our footing but stumble ahead. We cover our ramblings a bit more eloquently than my granddaughter, but being able to cover isn’t commendable. God will take what we offer him, of course, but he doesn’t accept all offerings the same. He knows our abilities in the moment. He knows our intentions, even better than we do. He knows our humility and authenticity, and he knows our shortcuts.
Sometimes prayer feels like a long string of hops, skips, and jumps, but I think our prayer lives are the best kind of playgrounds, where we explore and find joy, where we trip and skin our knees, where we build the best friendships.
Spend some time on the playground today.