“Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”—Psalm 37:24
I was reading through our Quote Book the other day. It is a small journal we keep on a family room table so that when anyone says anything worth remembering, we can record it. We started it when Andrea was around three and Michael around a year. We have some priceless treasures in this book and I highly recommend you start gathering your own treasures too.
Anyhow, it struck me how difficult it must be for our kids to process words and express themselves during the developmental stages of speech—and how amusing their misinterpretations can be. For instance, my husband asked our son if I was fixing him a grilled cheese sandwich. Andrea, then 3 ½, answered, “She’s not fixing him a girl-cheese sandwich, she’s fixing a boy-cheese sandwich!”
Or, when Michael was two we had this dialogue before my husband came home for his birthday dinner:
Andrea: “I want to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Daddy.
Mommy: “You want to sing ‘Happy Birthday’?
Andrea: “Yeah, I want to sing it right.”
Michael: “I want to sing it left!”
Am I alone in this, or do you ever feel totally inept when you pray? I think God must surely laugh at my prayers the way I laugh when my kids are unaware of their own occasional mistakes. It’s not a vicious laugh—just a loving, “Oh how cute!” I mean really, I am working from a limited knowledge base and certainly a limited word base in comparison to the omnipotent God! I may have majored in journalism and minored in English, but I still rely on spellcheck or a thesaurus.
It's encouraging to know that just as I am often the only one who can translate my child’s “shoe” into “fish” or “ooh-doo” into cookie, my Heavenly Father is capable of translating my grunts and groans into meaningful…and maybe downright scholarly…prayers. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will.”
In other words, if you find yourself babbling or unable to do anything but groan, take heart. It may not be you talking, but the Holy Spirit praying on your behalf for God Almighty to meet your needs.
Sometimes I find myself in such a quandary that I don’t know where to start praying. After finding I have plenty to be thankful for, I usually try out the plea our three-year-old uttered one day:
Michael: “Daddy, can you help me?”
Daddy: “What do you need?”
Rhonda: “Daddy (Abba), can you help me?”
God: “What do you need?”
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”—Ephesians 3:17-19
Rhonda DiGenova and her husband of 31 years are empty nesters in Vancouver WA. Their children are thriving adults—in spite of colossal parenting fails. Andrea is now 24, married and lives in Idaho. Michael is 23 and works full time in eastern Washington. Both are actively involved in ministering to college students.