Thursday, 8 March 2007

Four-year-old theology: prayer

Yesterday my four-year-old daughter erupted into a loud and vibrant song about prayer:

    If I need anything
    I can just pray to God;
    He might do it His way,
    But He still gives me what I want,
    Oh yeah, still gives me what I want.


Sounds pretty good to me.

8 Comments:

JoBloggs said...

Your daughter is magnificent, Ben! Would she consider starting her own blog?

kim fabricius said...

Felicity rocks!

John said...

Your daughter is effectively praying to either the good-luck Santa Claus god and/or sees god as as a super parent who provides things for her.

The "adult" version of such an attitude manifests at Hillsong and similar churches.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for your comment, John. But don't be too hard on her -- she's only four!

Besides, it's more important to notice the positive side here. In the teaching of Jesus, prayer has nothing at all in common with a Stoic resignation to the will of God. For Jesus, prayer is petition, plain and simple: no special formulas or pious attitudes are necessary; you just tell God what you need. I suspect many of us today tend to approach prayer in something closer to a Stoic attitude. We are so grown-up that we forget how to expect anything from God. In contrast, the straighforward, unreflective petition of a little child is much closer to Jesus' conception of prayer.

So Felicity isn't wrong to see God "as a super parent who provides things for her" -- this is, after all, exactly the way Jesus describes prayer! (see Matt. 7:7-11).

On another note: In your comment, you also mentioned Santa Claus. This reminds me of another anecdote: last Christmas, my younger daughter (2 years old) received a Christmas card with a big picture of Santa on the front. I asked her, "Do you know who that is?" And she replied in her matter-of-fact way: "Yes, that's God!"

kim fabricius said...

On Santa Claus, clearly Felicity has been reading Robert Jenson - his - and his granddaughter's - Converstions with Poppi about God (2006).

What's bedtime reading in your house, Ben - Church Dogmatics? Alas, there is no ending!

Ben Myers said...

"Church Dogmatics?" No, we prefer something with a little more political seriousness: Dr Seuss!

Gregory said...

Great story!

Where did she pick up that song, by the way? I was half-consciously trying to imagine a tune to go along with it when I was reading.

One of Freedom said...

I love catching my girls (4 & 6) pray. It is always lovely and so delightfully heterodox. I'm sure God grins everytime too. Thanks for sharing.

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