A Slide, a Prayer, Again

Good afternoon fellow readers.
I get a lot of christian related material by e-mail.
I enjoy a lot of it.
a lot of the good stuff comes from:
christian today.com
this site offers a lot of great reading.
The following article comes from the
children’s ministry
section of that site.
Please enjoy, and remember, your comments are always welcome on the material posted here.
and now, as they say in show business, we give you our featured presentation, the article entitled A Slide, a Prayer, Again.

A Slide, a Prayer, Again
by Keri Wyatt Kent

Little Josh wanders the three-year-old room at Promiseland, stopping first at the art station to color a picture of Jesus, which he embellishes with a few
lines and circles meant to be Thomas the train. I admire his work. He smiles, but is already scanning the room, sizing up the possibilities: a reading
corner with picture books, a play kitchen, bowling with plastic pins, and a rubber ball. Then he sees it: the sturdy plastic slide, brightly hued and inviting.
“I want to slide,” he says, pulling me by the hand. “Okay,” I say.

He points to a spot on the carpet beside the slide. “You sit here and watch me,” he says kindly. As a volunteer, that’s my job during play time—to watch
the kids (we’ll talk about the Bible lesson later during small group time). I agree and sit on the floor. Josh climbs to the top of slide, sits down and
looks at me expectantly.

“Ready, set, go!” I say. He slides down, his light-up sneakers catching slightly on the slide. He runs over to me and I give him a high-five. He stops,
looking thoughtful. He lifts one finger, looking professorial. “I’ll do it again!” he says.

Josh was sliding for at least 15 minutes, maybe more. Each time, he’d lift that index finger and repeat, “I’ll do it again!” Since I was at Promiseland
and not at home trying to get other chores done, I sat down and simply watched Josh play. He’d look over at me, and I’d clap or make comments. Occasionally,
other kids joined in, and I watched all of them, saying “Ready, set, go!” when prompted and offering “Great job!” with a high-five as each came off the
slide.

What made this activity satisfying for three-year-olds? Well, they like doing things “again”! (And again and again.) But mostly, I think, Josh liked having
someone to watch and admire his play on the slide. He just enjoyed my attention.

Prayer is like that, I think: just enjoying the attention of God.

What an amazing gift—the loving attention of God. We can have it any time we want—God is never hurried, never stingy with time. We can take that attention
for granted. It’s easy to focus on ourselves and our needs when we pray. But prayer is so much more than communicating our concerns.

Prayer is rooted in relationship. The writer of Hebrews notes that our relationship with Jesus not only gives us access to God, but assurance that we’ll
be heard and helped. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in
our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16).

Just as little Josh was confident that he could ask me to sit and watch him play on the slide, that I would give him my attention and affirmation, we can
be confident that God will listen to us.

That begins the conversation, but if it is truly to be that—a conversation—we must listen as well. To be aware that God is giving us attention and to respond
by offering our attention back to God—that’s the beginning of a deeper kind of prayer.

Do these ideas fill you with longing? Pay attention to that.

“Desire for God is fuel for prayer,” writes Marjorie Thompson, adding that all our spiritual desires come from God. God is the initiator—the one who sits
down to listen to us and longs to have us listen, be still, and know.

Does prayer feel like a privilege, or an obligation? Is it a time to listen, or just a chance to stuff your complaints in the suggestion box? Do you enjoy
the attention of God, or does it make you squirmy, wondering what to say?

One way to listen to God is to simply be still, and pray a simple breath prayer. A breath prayer is one that can be uttered in the space of a single inhale
and exhale. It’s a way of giving God attention that you can carry with you through your day.

Start by simply being quiet and taking a few deep, calming breaths. Imagine Jesus is there with you, asking, what do you need? Do you need peace? Confidence?
Strength to endure? Wisdom? Jesus promises to give us all these things if we ask.

Then, decide how you want to address God. What feels most intimate, or addresses your need most directly? Loving Father? Compassionate One? Lord?

Combine this name for God with your desire or need. For example, you may pray, “Counselor, give me wisdom.” A famous breath prayer that has been prayed
for generations is “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

You may want to write your prayer in a journal or on an index card that you can carry with you. Or simply carry it in your heart. Pray it throughout your
day. Then listen for God’s response. Or simply enjoy the quiet presence of the Spirit.

Today, take some time to enjoy the attention of God, to share your joys and challenges with one who delights in listening to you. And then, offer your undivided
attention to God, who longs to tell you how deeply and fully loved you truly are.

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