God listens when children pray. Intently. Although he knows the words they will quietly utter even before they form on the lips of each child, he attends to them as if hearing it for the first time. He understands the stops and starts. Even the sidetracks. He doesn’t seem to mind so much when they open their eyes and peak at their friends during prayer. Why do we?
He understands the childlike assumptions. He embraces their unquestioning trust. And he looks at us saying, “Be like them.”
Somehow, beneath the veneer of our worldly sophistication, the admonition strikes a chord deep in that childlike place of our souls. We glimpse for a moment the reality that our theological argumentations are impotent to touch the heart of God. This is especially true for those of us within the fold of evangelicalism. For while argumentations might be helpful in wrestling with issues or engaging in apologetics, they too often become a distraction to relational connections with God and others.
We also realize that our fascination with the interface of culture and philosophy fade in importance as we reach back into the realm of childlike trust, and believe. For a moment, we lay aside our self-conscious worldview angst and simply believe. And as we reach out in belief, we remember that we had always been invited to belong in the sense that God sought us out, having drawn us to him by his Holy Spirit. It makes us wonder: what would happen if we reached out to the lost relationally, rather than argumentively? If we showed the kind of love that the Holy Spirit showed us in drawing us to Jesus Christ, is it possible that the lost would somehow be moved to reach back into the realm of their childlike curiosity to ask of the hope within us?
Those of us who work with children regularly have ample opportunity to be schooled in the ways of childlike trust. Embrace the opportunity. For even as we teach children, they also have something to teach us. So in the sense of trust, let’s “be like them.”