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One of my favorite times each week is getting to help out and volunteer with our Children's Choir group on Mondays. They are all cute and friendly. It is heartwarming when they see your face, known your name, come give you a hug, and want to tell you ALL about their day and what's going on in their lives! It gives me such joy each week to be there and to see each of them, too.
What always amazes me about these precious kiddos is their boldness. They are not afraid to step up and volunteer, even if they don't quite know what they're doing! Each week, we say a prayer for their snack and we say closing prayers. I ask for a volunteer to pray for the snack and Mrs. Lana asks for a volunteer to say the closing prayer. Without fail, any time either of us asks for a volunteer, at least 20 hands immediately shoot up into the air. These kids want to pray! And when one of them is chosen, the others get sad looks on their faces, some complain, some say, "But I never get to say the prayer!" The one who is chosen, of course, gets excited. There is a spark of joy that flashes on their face when they find out they get to pray for everyone! And when they pray, their prayers are perfectly imperfect--sometimes they forget words they wanted to say, sometimes they pause because they are nervous, but each time one of them prays, I can feel the Holy Spirit at work within them and within us.
For some reason, it hit me strongly just how excited kids were to pray. When I asked for a prayer over the snack, a little boy shot his hand into the air and even sat up in his seat to make sure he was the first and most bold kid ready to pray. I let him pray and the smile on his face got 10 times bigger, if that was even possible.
As adults, we have opportunities to pray every single day. Most of them are opportunities to pray silently. However, there are also times we can pray out loud, with others around us. When those opportunities present themselves, we don't typically shoot our hand into the air and say, "I want to pray!" We put our eyes down, we shrink even a little. We get quiet. We don't want to be the one to say the prayer. Somehow, between childhood and adulthood, we learned that prayers have to be perfect. That others will judge us when we say the "wrong" things or when we mess up our words in prayer. So we don't want to be embarrassed. We don't want all eyes on us if we get something "wrong." Somehow, as adults, prayers have become more about perfection and less out what's truly on our hearts.
This is not how God calls us to live. We are not called to wonder what others will think of us if we get it "wrong" when we pray. We are not called to shrink, get quiet, or hide when the opportunity for prayer is there for us. We are supposed to be as bold as the children in Children's Choir, shooting our hands up in the air and with a loud voice declare, "I want to say the prayer!" And then, no matter how "right" or "wrong" our prayer is, use our hearts to say what needs to be said in prayer. I hope that next time you have the opportunity to pray, you don't shy away from saying one out loud. Instead, I hope you boldly say you will pray and then pray from your heart. Be bold in your faith and be bold in your willingness to show it publicly through prayer!