Why children’s prayers are better than adults’ prayers

Since I am a horrible person, I sometimes roll my eyes at the “prayers” I hear given over the pulpit.  They are sometimes sermons, sometimes poetic declarations, sometimes dramatic presentations, sometimes obviously scripted, and sometimes downright over-the-top long.  (Notice the abundant use of sometimes.  I’m not trying to make a sweeping generalization about all prayers.)  I remember a few years back in General Conference, Elder Cree-L Kofford got up and said a one-sentence prayer asking the Spirit to be with us.  It was awesome.  It may have been right after Elder Russell M. Nelson taught “Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers:”

A closing prayer in a Church meeting need not include a summary of each message and should not become an unscheduled sermon. Private prayers can be as long as we want, but public prayers ought to be short supplications for the Spirit of the Lord to be with us or brief declarations of gratitude for what has transpired.

So it’s about a thousand levels of refreshing to hear my children say their prayers at the end of the day.  Sure they seem super short, and perhaps even a little thoughtless, but take a close look at one of my recent favorites from Clark:

Dear Heavenly Father, Please bless me that I won’t have any bad dreams.  But if I do, I won’t be mad.  But please bless me that I won’t have bad dreams.  Please help us that our days will be great.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

There’s much to learn in that prayer.  Children just get it sometimes.

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14 thoughts on “Why children’s prayers are better than adults’ prayers

  1. Love it. That is so sweet. I particularly adore that “I won’t be mad” part. It’s like the kid version of “Thy will be done.” You know, they just haven’t lost sight of what prayer really is–communication with a loving Father in Heaven.

  2. Amen, Clark. I agree wholeheartedly with this post and I too am guilty of silently pleading with people to wrap up their prayers. But I understand that public prayer makes people nervous sometimes and they pray the way they think others would want them to.

    Personal prayers are such a treasure. Talking to my Heavenly Father, knowing that He doesn’t mind how I phrase things, or if I’m a little disjointed–it means the world to me to speak with someone who so fully understands me. And I think it’s wonderful that our children can experience this as well.

    I will miss it when my children keep their personal prayers to themselves. Even my one year old looks forward to folding his arms and babbling random syllables. What a treasure is prayer.

  3. Yes, you are a horrible person. 🙂 I’ve been away from the States for so long that I almost forgot about that. It doesn’t happen over here. Kid prayers are quite great. Sometimes a little rote, but now and again just spot on, making the mother feel teary, and never long and preachy. 🙂

  4. All I can think of when reading this is that I will never want to pray when you are in the building for I will be too self-conscious!

    My children never said prayers like that. Either that or I forgot that they did. Clark’s prayer though is quite the lesson on how to deal with adversity.

  5. I love children’s prayers! My 3 year old just crossed from rote phrases to really thinking. Today he thanked God that summer was getting so close. My 5 year old has yet to forget the people in Haiti in his prayer. I could definitely take lessons from them!

  6. I think I hold my ward’s record for shortest prayer ever given. I walked up to the pulpit, addressed Heavenly Father, thanked him for the beautiful sabbath day, heard Meici screaming “I want MOMMY!” amen.

  7. I too love the prayers of children. I wrote about our meeting on my blog. Thanks for taking the time to share lunch and talk.

  8. One day when we were visiting a ward in Italy on vacation, someone closed the meeting with what felt like a 20-minute prayer. A disgruntled elderly man in the back of the building suddenly muttered, quite loudly “Un Discurso!” Translation: A discourse…or in other words, he’s giving another talk! We busted up laughing.

  9. Devon has a very specific night prayer he and Lincoln take turns saying every night. “Please bless us that we won’t have any scary dreams, or mad, or bad, or sad dreams, and no dreams about witches or ghostes or haunted dreams. Please bless us that we will have nice and happy and good dreams.” Something like that. He asked me to say it for him one night and I wasn’t getting it just right. Seriously, I tried it about 4 times before we both gave up and I found Daddy to do it with him.

    I am a horrible person too, by your standards. Especially closing prayer in Sacrament meeting when my kids are fried and chomping at the bit to please, for the love of Pete, get out of the chapel before they spontaneously combust.

  10. I agree! Although I do get really nervous praying in public. Really nervous. So mine tend to be short in an effort to keep me from passing out.
    My two year old says the same prayer every night. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank, please bless, amen.” That is exactly what she says. So cute. I figure one of these days she will actually get to some specifics.

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