Lessons from the 5-year-old on prayer

romans 12-12
I put my hand on the back of my five-year-old to usher her into the minivan.

She does not move.

My lecture about wasting time and ‘please can you hurry because we don’t want to be late!’ catches in my throat when I glance at her.

Her head is bowed, her eyes squeezed shut.  Her hands are clasped and tucked under her chin.

She is praying.

I lean down and hear the whisper:

Dear God, please help the person who is hurt and help the fire truck make them safe and all better.  Amen.

Oh, now I hear them: The sirens in a distance that I’d been blocking out with busy thoughts and Mom-instructions to “get your seatbelts on quickly” and “take turns sitting in the middle seat” and “make sure you have all your stuff.”

You know.  Life.

Life crowded out the need, crowded out others.  It tunneled my vision so I saw only my agenda, heard only my voice, pushed and shoved and crammed right up to the Father with only my own needy self in mind.

As parents, my husband and I have had our more spiritual moments.  We’ve been driving before and hushed the general din of six people (including a baby) in the minivan so we could pray about the fire truck or the ambulance passing us on the road.

My girl took this to heart.  She tucked it into her soul and now she watches and listens and drops her head down the instant she senses the need to pray.

She even stopped the mad dash to the middle seat of the minivan and let her sisters rush in to claim the prime spots in order to pause and pray.

She let go of self.  She focused on another.

Maybe my husband and I taught her the principle, but this kindergarten prayer powerhouse teaches me to get down on my knees and beg for God to help me see.

Because somehow there’s this automatic pull of humanity back to self.  Somehow the noise within us drowns out the noise without….so we no longer hear the cries of need from a needy world.

Somehow we lose the eyes of God, the ears of God, the heart of God.

Yet, Moses teaches me to see others with God’s vision.

He stood on a holy mountain preparing to die.  Moses was not to enter the Promised Land and he knew God’s intentions to take him up a mountain that he would never climb down.

But his eyes were for the people of Israel.  He could have asked for a legacy.  He could have begged for forgiveness and the chance to step at least one weary foot onto Canaan’s soil.

He didn’t.

Instead, he prayed:

Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd (Numbers 27:16-17 ESV)

Long before Jesus, Moses stood overlooking the crowd and saw them with God’s eyes as sheep that have no shepherd.

Centuries later, Jesus Himself stood and saw this same need:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 ESV).

Moses got it, really got it.  Got right to the heart of the matter, right to the need in front of his face and put aside his own affairs—he was, after all, moments from death—-in order to intercede on behalf of God’s people.

His heart matched God’s own heart.

He had 20/20 vision in that moment, not cataracts of selfishness marring his perspective.

Selfishness takes up time and takes up space; it muscles out God and keeps us from loving others.

Today, let’s lay it down.

And let us pray:

Lord, give me Your heart today.
Don’t let me be blinded to need and deaf to the cries of others.
Show me how to bless another.
May I be sensitive to the needs of others so I can be generous and compassionate.
I lay aside selfishness so I can live a life motivated by kindness and ruled by love.
Less of me, Lord. More of You.
Be glorified.



Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King



2 thoughts on “Lessons from the 5-year-old on prayer

  1. Janis Hedgepeth says:

    Oh, Heather, how I needed this example of prayer from your little one. Too often I fall into the trap of too much busyness in my life! Thank you for sharing!

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