“I can’t hear you Debbie,” my mother said.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” was my five-year-old reply.
I do not recall the conversation, but it was one of Mom’s favorites to recount. As she told it, we had experienced a no good, really bad, awful, terrible day. My behavior had been less than desired. There had been upset and tears and enough of my strong will to go around.
As Mom tucked me in that night, she looked at me squarely and said, “You’d better say your prayers and ask Jesus to forgive you for being so naughty today.”
I dutifully bowed my head, closed my eyes, and began my conversation with God.
“You need to speak up. I can’t hear you, Debbie,” Mom said.
I peeked open my eyes and quietly said, “I wasn’t talking to you.”
When somebody tells you to “say your prayers” it’s typically not an exhortation; it’s a warning suggesting that prayer may be the only way to ward off some impending disaster.
Sounds like good advice.
No matter how old we are, no good, really bad, awful, terrible days hunt us down. And we sometimes show up as less than the shining beacons for Jesus we desire to be. God is not surprised by our behavior – His view of us is a horizontal perspective beginning on the day of our birth and ending the day we go to be with Him. As an all-knowing God, there are no “Oh wow! Did not see that coming!” moments. He knows us and He loves us still.
And He has the best open door policy, ever. “Come in and let’s talk – you go first,” He suggests. “I’m listening.” And unlike my childhood nighttime prayer, no observers or witnesses to see that we get it done right are required.
I see Him in such a myriad of ways: the King on His throne, the Savior who took back the keys of sin and death, the sweet Spirit who nudges me on the right path, and the loving Father whose lap is warm, safe, and familiar. It’s that lap I seek when I need to come to Him, hat in hand to do business and make things right. And when I climb down I am once again free from guilt and assured that my Father and I are solid.
In truth, we are always solid, but the reality of grace is one that I struggle to understand on a daily basis. It’s incomprehensible with my limited human capacity, but I’m grateful that my ability to grasp it is not required for it to be effective in my life.
So the next time somebody suggests to you, “Say your prayers,” thank them and consider it the best heads-up of the day!