As a Little Child

by Marjorie Meyer

“Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”
How do we teach a child to pray? Do we teach them that God is listening and loves them, and to pour out their hearts openly to him? Our Father is not distant, he is intimate and personal. Can we picture a mother or father with their little child, dressed in pajamas, kneeling at the end of the day, arm in arm, to petition the Lord for a safe journey into the night, and to ask his blessing on the family? What more pure prayer is there than the pleas of a child? No, it does not matter what we are wearing, or if we are dusty from the labors of the day, or if we are in our extremity. The Lord waits for us, and accepts our offering — we are the best that we have to offer the Lord. Let us offer ourselves to him every day. Can we truly take his yoke upon us?
What does it mean that prayer is “The upward glancing of an eye, When none but God is near”? How simple is prayer — how we sometimes would like to complicate it. Our Father is constantly calling to us with his heart, and does not withhold his love and responsiveness to our earnest pleas! He takes us AS WE ARE IN THE MOMENT, and with a Father’s tender care helps us to “tend our garden” of personal burdens. His love and acceptance are ours if we will claim and believe in it.

There really is not a more important “touchstone” of our inner religious lives than the quality and spiritual nature of our prayers. When you pray, do you stop, meditate, and wait to feel the quiet and comforting Spirit of the Lord in reply? Do you go forth, shielded by his love and abiding assurance? He is with us in the small and seemingly insignificant details of our lives. We depend on him for so much. He is our Master, and our Exemplar, and our advocate with the Father.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains
That reach The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters Heav’n with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, “Behold, he prays!”

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus, on th’eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.

Words: James Montgomery, 1818. He wrote the lyrics at the request of
Edward Bickersteth, who wanted them for his book Treatise on Prayer.
Montgomery called this “the most attractive hymn I ever wrote.”

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that
they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the
other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but
when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke 18:9-14)

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Words by Charlotte Elliott

In 1835, Miss Charlotte Elliott was visiting some friends in the West End
of London, and there met the eminent minister, César Malan. While
seated at supper, the minister said he hoped that she was a Christian.
She took offense at this, and replied that she would rather not discuss
that question. Dr. Malan said that he was sorry if had offended her,
that he always liked to speak a word for his Master, and that he hoped
that the young lady would some day become a worker for Christ. When they
met again at the home of a mutual friend, three weeks later, Miss
Elliott told the minister that ever since he had spoken to her she had
been trying to find her Saviour, and that she now wished him to tell her
how to come to Christ. “Just come to him as you are,” Dr. Malan said. This
she did, and went away rejoicing. Shortly afterward she wrote the hymn,
Just As I Am.

In this passage, our Lord reminds us to take one day at a time, and that we must choose of highest priority those things that are most important, and by so doing, he gently instructs us on our own great worth, that we might remember his constant love and concern for our well-being.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:19-34)

May your personal prayer time with our Father, in the name of his Son, be rewarding and fulfilling. May your incomings and your outgoings be in the name of the Lord. And may you feel his love and his presence ever about you, comforting you in your daily walk in life. Feel blessed, you are of great value. Remember, he accepts you “just as you are.” And remember the advice of a wise mission president: “Rise up above the level of a prayer given by a primary child.” And don’t be afraid to be specific with the Lord. It is amazing what we can talk about with him when we truly open our hearts and lean on his constant care. When you put extra energy, faith, and concentration into your heart-felt supplications, seeking truly to communicate with the simplicity of a child, I promise you will be granted an extra portion of wisdom and peace. Amen.