Pray like a Child

Author’s Note: I have had different reactions to this poem, including the dreaded “I don’t get it.” So I thought I would say a few words as to what it means to me.

We often regard prayer as a solemn and reverent act, the more solemn and reverent in fact, the better. Even in the more non-traditional churches where solemnity is lost, nonetheless a formal, almost formulaic approach to prayer exists, as though the tone of voice and choice of words betters our chances of being heard. But if one looks closely at the words of Jesus concerning prayer, it is not the reverent who necessarily obtains what is sought, but rather the one who simply refuses to take no for an answer. And this is what one often finds in the heart of a child. A thing in fact we consider undesirable. But before God, is it?

Be blessed, and pray like a child.

I had a dream I was praying to God
But had forgotten how

to hold my hands, or head, or kneel or bow
or choose my words or thoughts just so

it was as though
I was no more than a child who hadn’t been taught

a thing about not
getting my way.

Night and day
I kicked and screamed

at injustice. I cried over what seemed
the least little thing

concerning human suffering;
I could not be consoled

once awakened, nor told
“shhh!” or “no” — till satisfied was my thirst

for righteousness. Of all who prayed, I no doubt was the worst.
But one thing I knew: More than any other: I was adored

And I could not, would not, be ignored.

© 2013 D. Patrick Collins

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